You know who’s awesome? Mulan. You actually don’t often hear complaints about Mulan like you do about the other princesses. Because she is so dang cool. People love her because she’s this fierce warrior chick. Even though she doesn’t need much defending, I do want to analyze her because I don’t think a lot of people realize the full extent of her wonderfulness.
I really want to point out that although Mulan spends most of her movie posing as a male soldier and is not your typical damsel type, she is not masculine. It would be upsetting if one of the strongest and most beloved female Disney characters was only so great because she was like a man. This is thankfully not the case. Herjoining the army is not about wanting to be a man. It’s about saving her father. As a woman, she had no power to help him. She’s actually quite feminine. She’s sweet and beautiful and all that but she didn’t fit the mold for an ideal bride in her society.
is set in a time and place that had a very narrow idea of what women should be like. Her main faults (in the eyes of her society) are clumsiness and outspokenness.
The women in this movie are constantly being hushed. Her first mistake in her meeting with the matchmaker is “speaking without permission.” The second criticism from the matchmaker is that she is “too skinny. Not good for bearing sons.” Her worth only worth is in being a wife or mother to sons. She only goes to the matchmaker to please her father. When she protests her aging and injured father being forced to go back to war she is told off. “How dare you speak in the presence of a man?!” Her father says that she has dishonored him. She is reprimanded again later at dinner in her own home for again arguing the unfairness of her father having to fight.
She is assertive and speaks her mind. That’s an awesome thing but that’s what always gets her in trouble because she’s a girl.
Even with all this oppression, Mulan decides to dress as a man and go to war in her father’s place, not to prove a point, but to protect him. I actually really like that she didn’t do it as some bold girl-power statement. She is completely selfless. She is so devoted and cares more about her family than her own wellbeing. She knows full well that if she is caught she will be put to death. It is an incredibly brave and noble thing to do, especially because she doesn’t do it for herself. It is a great sacrifice.
Once she’s with the army she rises to the occasion. Physically she is able to hang with the guys, and she even outdoes them all mentally. The times where she really impresses everyone is when she approaches a problem in a creative, clever way. Mulan is the only soldier able to retrieve the arrow that Shang shot at the top of the pole because she was smart enough to use the weights to her advantage. Her other shining moment in the army is when she saves all the other soldiers from the Huns by shooting the cannon at the top of the mountain to cause an avalanche. She was thinking outside the box. I love that her biggest asset is her mind. This woman is bursting with good ideas but because she was female nobody would listen to her.
When they discover that she is a woman she is shamed and dismissed from the army. Although Shang, to repay her for saving him, ordered that she not be put to death, he still discounted everything that she said or did from that moment on. Mulan later discovers that the Huns are still alive and coming for the emperor. She rushes around trying to warn people and get help but they completely ignore her. Nobody even gives her a second glance. She rages at Shang, “You said you trusted Ping. Why is Mulan any different?” When they find out that she was right about the huns the soldiers accept her help. Again it is her quick and clever thinking that helps them win. She devises a plan to sneak into the palace disguised as women (don’t you love that turning of the tables?) to rescue the emperor and defeat Shan Yu.
The emperor himself gives credit to Mulan for saving all of China. He offers her a prominent position working for him. When she declines, choosing instead to go home, he gives her his crest and the sword of Shan Yu. All of China, including the emperor, bows before her. It is an amazing moment. Mulan has proven that women are worth something. A woman can be smart, brave, and strong and is deserving of respect the same respect that would be given to a man. That is the message of this film and this beautiful character. It’s positively wonderful.
Posted on Wednesday, August 14 2013. Tagged with: mulanchinaemperorchineseDisneyDisney Princessprincessdisney movieDisney charactersshan yushangpinganalysiscriticismdefenserole modelsheroinesoldier
I have always been an avid Disney princess fan. Lately I\'ve been saddened to see so many criticisms and attacks toward the princesses. This blog is devoted to their defense.
This is also a feminist blog. Beyond Disney, it is dedicated to the defense and celebration of all women.
I also have a Harry Potter blog! http://whatscurious.tumblr.com/