The Ballad Of Mulan Analysis

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2.2.1. Crossdressing

As argued above, the legendary Mulan, a paradigm of Chinese femininity, was reinvented in the cartoon as a tomboy and nonconformist. Although, the emotional impact of Mulan embracing an outfit of a male soldier and clearly going against the wishes of her whole family is moving, it has lesser effect on the audience than the original legend, in which Mulan also had an older sister and younger brother. The gesture of a younger daughter making a sacrifice for her father is the indication of her upbringing and priorities. In the ballad, Mulan takes her father 's armour, but buys the horse herself. She also leaves at dawn, with the rising sun shining on her road, almost like a symbol of a good will. In the cartoon Mulan similarly
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Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?”
(“The Ballad of Mulan” 59-62) There seems to be no difference between the two rabbits while in action. Nicole Brugger-Dethmers, a freelance editor, copyeditor, and proofreader whose graduate paper became a chapter in The Emergent Adult (Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present) commented on the legend of Mulan saying that although male and female hares can be distinguished by certain physical characteristics while standing still, they are indistinguishable while in action. Mulan, who must continually perform masculinity in dress, action, and attitude, transcends her previously defined feminine identity to create a masculine identity that is indistinguishable from the men beside whom she fights. Not only does Mulan fight, she does so well enough to suggest that she outperforms at least some of the men. The fact that she survives [...] war and receives approbation and rewards from the emperor himself indicates her remarkable level of success. (81)

Fig. 25. Mulan the soldier. Walt Disney Animation Studios, 1998. Author’s
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She became the rabbit – indistinguishable while in movement. Hua Mulan from the ballad came back home even though “[c]hilly light shines on iron armor./ Generals die in a hundred battles,/ [s]tout soldiers return after ten years” (“The Ballad of Mulan” 32-34). Mulan essentially became one of the soldiers, another ordinary hare between others. In the cartoon, noteworthy is her performance as a soldier Ping going against Shan Yu. The only times that the audience can see any human emotions on Shan Yu 's face are the moments when he is surprised by Mulan. It infuriates him that someone was able to outwit him, but he seems to have no care that his opponent is a woman. He calls her “the soldier from the mountains” (Mulan) which has no gendered
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