Whether or not society acknowledges and speaks on the global issues surrounding civilization, there are an abundant amount of sources that address certain problems without directly doing so. These hidden messages are found in children’s books, novels, music and, more specifically, films. For instance, Mulan, a children’s movie based on a mythical, women warrior, depicts an ongoing problem within social hierarchy amongst men and women. Since before the foundation of the nation known now, social norms have separated men and women from one another and identified what he or she is intended for.
These gender roles portray the qualities “true” men and women must encompass as a way to fit in society and avoid the possibility of being a social outcast; men are characterized as strong and resilient while women are identified as feeble and delicate. However, the character of Mulan demonstrates to the public how woman are capable beyond the limitations tradition and society imposes upon them. The world wide recognized children’s film, Mulan, depicts the global issue of diminishing a women’s ability due to gender roles by comparing her to the characters within the film and the relationship between them.
Within the first minutes of the movie, the character Mulan is quickly portrayed as a shame to the rest of the women in China due to her untidiness and inability to behave like a refined woman ready to be married. As she is getting dressed and beautified, all the women in the scene begin signing, “A girl can bring her family honor in one way, by striking a good match. ” Instantly, the film addresses one of the predominant stereotypes tradition enforces not only on the women of China, but women everywhere.
As a young lady, society implies that their only position in the community is to complete their domestic role in a marriage and to serve the needs of their husband. The song implies that women have no other place within society, or the possibility of obtaining a higher position within their culture. The priorities of women consist of bringing righteousness to her family by marrying a man with qualities that resemble an honorable male: hard working and sturdy.
Nonetheless, Mulan misses her opportunity to be matched with a righteous man by demonstrating what is considered to be non-feminine qualities: mediocre, disobedient, and impolite. Her character contradicts all the societal expectations society has for women, yet Mulan proves her virtue and commitment to her family. Rather than simply marrying a man out of obligation, Mulan demonstrates to be selfless and honorable by joining the army in place of her sick father.
By doing so, the film showcases women as capable of becoming part of something that society marks as impossible for women. Mulan’s bravery adds to the qualities most women are unaware of encompassing due to the fact that the surrounding community continuously dismisses the idea of women having “male” qualities. As Mulan becomes part of the army, the distinction between her strength and ability differs tremendously when compared to the male warriors; however, as time progresses she quickly acquires greater abilities than most of the members in the army.
During the song, “I’ll make a man out of you,” General Shang and the warriors carry on their training. Constantly, Mulan, or as she is referred to by the other men, Ping is the last and worst at everything they attempt and practice. Although she attempts to fit in with the rest of the male warriors by imitating their deep voice, strut walk, and skillfulness with swords, she is not able to accomplish these goals until her spot in the army against the Han is threatened. Mulan uses this possibility of being taken out of the war as motivation to better her.
Quickly, she not only acquires the skills needed to become a soldier, but she becomes one of the best within the regiment. Once again, the film diminishes the pre-existing stereotype of women not being able to go to war by demonstrating how a young woman, who has never been exposed to such an environment, adjusted and became one of the best warriors. General Shan sings, “Did they send me daughters when I asked for men” implying that women are not suited for war. Nonetheless, Mulan is further ahead than the rest of the warriors, and she is the only one who managed to retrieve the sword.
Consequently, besides indicating that woman can acquire the same skills as men, the character of Mulan also depicts that women hold intelligence even though this particular trait is not appropriate for females to have. As mentioned before, she proves to society that she is capable of even the things society says she cannot do. The dedication and commitment she has towards her family drives her to ignore the social anticipations individuals expect of women. Rather than following these idealistic roles, Mulan strives towards bettering herself even though she is a social outcast.
As mentioned before, Mulan risks her life when she enters the army against the Hans due to the fact that her father is sick; however, she must go in disguise. Everyone is oblivious to her secret, so she has the opportunity to witness the ideals and beliefs men carry. Throughout the movie, her new friends constantly diminish the ability of a women and only focus on physical attraction and domestic skills. In the song, “A girl worth fighting for,” the warriors repeatedly say that they want a woman who is, “paler than the moon, eyes shinier than the star, and a good cook.
Mulan suggests a wife who speaks her mind and who is intelligent, but all the men quickly disagree and look sickened. Mulan once again addresses the discrimination against women and the gender roles amongst society. Men and other members of society overlook the qualities women are capable of having and focus on the qualities tradition and culture has passed from generation to generation. Mulan is not “paler than the moon” and does not have “eyes brighter than the stars,” but she continues to be successful.
She went into war hoping to save the life of her father without getting caught, and she does so successfully, but she also saves the lives of the people of China. Mulan transmits to the audience that physical attraction and the ability to bear children does not define an honorable women. Instead, her character conveys greater qualities such as bravery, loyalty, and courage that lead to her triumph even though the majority of people believed that these qualities were not suitable for respectable females.
Additionally, the characters within the film constantly portray strength and resistance as the most noteworthy qualities that all warriors must encompass as way to defeat the Han army. However, in time of distress, Mulan does not rely on her strength to overcome the obstacles presented. Instead of listening to the advice of the men, she utilizes her own instincts to stop the Han army from killing the few men left in her regiment. Once again, Mulan overthrows the stereotype of women being fit only for domestic work by using her cleverness to device a strategy within seconds.
She may not have the same capability of being as physically strong as the rest of the men, but it is this physical impediment that encourages her to use other resources to help her reach greatness and success in time of emergency. Because of Mulan’s quickness, the men hold an immense amount of admiration and gratification towards her until they find out she is a woman. Due to the men’s loss of appreciation and trust they had towards Mulan before they discovered she was a woman, the film addresses gender roles furthermore.
Simply because of gender, Mulan losses her spot as the hero of the day, and becomes a “treacherous snake” regardless of the achievements she reached. Even when she is accused of treason and looked down upon, Mulan continues her journey in attempt to save her town rather than giving in to defeat. She not only empowers herself, but she also demonstrates how women can rise even when they feel inferior to others within their community. Due to the resilience Mulan embodies since the moment she rrived to the training camp, she is able to defeat the Han army and demonstrate that women are capable of much more than what social expectations say they can achieve.
Again, her character prefers to use intellect and strategy rather than strength and violence to overcome the threatening forces within the city. Her strategy includes some of the warriors dressing up as women. By including these masculine men wearing feminine items, it is symbolic when refereeing to the hierarchy amongst men and women. Rather than depicting men as superior to women, they are showcased as equal with the same potential regardless of gender.
Just as men are recognized and capable as being a hero or a significant figure, all women have the same potential because they encompass promising qualities besides the domestic skills society encourages them to posses. Because of Mulan’s success to save the ambassador and the people of China, he recognizes Mulan as the hero of China amongst everyone. The ambassador strives away from the division between men and women and sees Mulan for her triumph and offers her a position as a member in the council.
Although she does not accept the position, she has brought honor to her family in a distinct way than what is expected. The character of Mulan embodies what every woman is capable of regardless of the limitations society places upon them. Her bravery, intelligence, and loyalty towards her family allow her to acquire qualities not common in women and utilize them to reach success. Although based on a mythical warrior, the character of Mulan reminds women that they have the same potential as those who say they are superior to them.