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Mulan: A Hero's Journey

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Mashal M

on 21 October 2012

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Transcript of Mulan: A Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey Mulan Departure Mulan fits the outcast archetype before her journey. She does not fit society's stereotype of women as decorative objects and fails to bring honor to her family with the matchmaker. Initiation Return Outcast Call to Adventure During China's war with the Huns, the Fa family must send a male from the family to go to war. Mulan's father is frail and disabled, but he still stubbornly agrees to fight for China. Mulan is terrified of losing her father, and begs to go in his place. Refusal of the Call However, by speaking out in front of men, Mulan disgraces her family. All she wants to do is bring honor to her family. Going to war in her father's place will not make them proud; indeed, if she is found she will be killed.
Still, despite her grim future, she must go in her father's place in order to save him. Supernatural Aid Mulan's ancestors hear her prayers and send the Great Stone Dragon to protect her. However, the disgraced Mushu breaks the statue instead of waking the dragon and decides to go in place of the Great Stone Dragon as Mulan's supernatural mentor and protector.
Mushu also provides comic relief by being sassy and hilarious. The Crossing of the First Threshold Mulan finally leaves her old life behind when she enters the army training camp. Here, she is completely out of place, surrounded by hundreds of rowdy masculine men for the first time. The Belly of the Whale The Road of Trials The old Mulan is hidden away and now she goes by the name Ping. She transforms from a girl living in a peaceful place to a boy living in an army camp. As a man, she finds being outspoken and intelligent is a lot more acceptable. She is freed from gender restrictions as Ping. Mulan undergoes a difficult training regime that she is terrible at. By sunset, she is told to pack up and go home. The light/darkness archetype comes into play when things start turning around for her. Just as the sun rises she succeeds at her first task, and from there on out she passes every other task in blazing sunlight. In addition, Mulan's hidden gender is an issue. In the song playing in the background of the tests and trials, Shang wonders if "they sen[t him] daughters when [he] asked for sons". Daughters are incapable and not meant to fight. Mulan must "be a man" because being a woman means being weak. Even though Mulan is accomplishing all the feats, she can only be free as Ping. Meeting with the Goddess Mulan falls in love with Shang, but as Ping she can not be open about her feelings. Her unconditional love is present when she saves his life in the avalanche, risking her own life as well as her cricket's, horse's, and dragon's. Archetypes Evil / Bad guy Shan Yu has yellow, snake-like eyes and a darker, deathly pallor. A shrieking falcon sits on his shoulder. He and the Huns all appear thuggish and deathly and are the obvious enemies in the movie. Ice and Fire Ice represents death. Shang's father and his entire army are killed in the snow. The avalanche kills the Huns and nearly kills Shang. Mulan is injured in the snow and abandoned in the snow.
Fire, on the other hand represents triumph. Mulan is redeemed and reborn under the fireworks in the city. She defeats the Huns by setting a cannon on fire (although snow is the actual thing that kills them), and kills they bad guy with fireworks. The Gatekeeper Chi Fu, bitter over his position as babysitter of the fledgling army, is the main gatekeeper in Mulan's journey. He tries to prevent the army from going to battle after they are ready, which Mushu and the lucky cricket must fix. He despises Mulan when he finds out she is a woman and demands that Shang kill her. At the end he also sputters in indignation when the emperor offers Mulan a highly esteemed position. A vast, barren wasteland of snow with the looming army represents death Using fire to cause an avalanche and kill the invading army Mulan's ultimate triumph over Shan Yu is achieved through the use of fireworks Saving Shang's life leans more towards unconditional love than being tempted by material things. Instead of being punished for saving his life, Mulan is rewarded when he doesn't kill her for being a female. Atonement with the Father Mulan's entire journey has been leading up to this point: the others discover that she is a female.
Mulan is not killed physically for being a female, but from this point on Ping is forever dead. She cannot go back to being a male, and as a female she may as well be dead to everyone else. Apotheosis After Mulan's identity is discovered she feels like a horrible failure. She rests for a while in the deserted mountains, reflecting in her fall before deciding to return home having shamed her family. The Helpers Mulan's sidekicks help her especially at the end by agreeing to go along with her plan to dress up as women. The Birth Mother Mulan's mother is kind and sympathetic and offers Mulan wisdom and emotional help when she needs it. Refusal of the Return Why should Mulan bother telling the army of their impending doom? They turned their backs on her in the mountains. Still, she goes to the imperial city and warns people that the Huns are coming. But since she is a female, no one listens to her. Society still expects her to be quiet and pretty -- but Mulan has gained new confidence from her journey and refuses to be hampered by society's restrictions. Rescue from Without Mulan cannot defeat the Huns alone. Her sidekicks decide to listen to her despite her gender and together they manage to defeat the remaining Hun army and save the emperor. In addtion, Mulan saves the emperor by embracing her female side. Instead of "mak[ing] a man" out of the soldiers, Mulan makes women out of them. The masculine battering ram fails but Mulan cleverly decides to use feminine items (fans, scarves, etc) to defeat the Huns. She embraces her gender and shows how being unrestricted by gender roles opens up a world of possibilities. The Crossing of the Return Threshold Mulan learns that she can and should be respected as herself, a skilled and intelligent female. She finally earns the boon -- the emperor and all of China bow down to her, she receives Shan Yu's sword, and the emperor honors her with his crest. She no longer attempts to fit in as a demure female, nor as an obnoxious man. Instead, she is confident in simply being herself. Master of Two Worlds However, while China regards her with deep respect, Mulan is still scared of her father's reaction. But Mulan does not need to worry: her father is just glad she is back home and is incredibly proud of her. Both the outside and inside world embrace Mulan for who she is. Freedom to Live Mulan's journey finally ends with her at peace with herself. She no longer needs to worry about matchmakers or makeup or pouring tea because she is skilled in other ways. China as well as her parents love her just the way she is. Shang does as well, and comes to visit her at the end. She does not have to worry about her future because either way she is confident in herself. A Tree The tree during spring represents her coming growth. Before she leaves, she is insecure and unblossomed like the flowers on the tree. When she comes back accomplished and brimming with confidence, all the flowers have blossomed, signaling her growth. Before her journey began. The End!
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