Use of Mirror and Reflection Imagery in "Mulan"

Essay by dudeman567 July 2006

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This story is about the adventures of a young woman in ancient China, named Mulan, inspired by a familiar Chinese folk tale.

Mulan is a lovable, spirited girl who doesn't fit in with Chinese tradition because she has a bad habit of speaking her mind and following her heart, which gets her into a lot of trouble. Mulan's parents sent her to the matchmaker hoping that she will find a suitable husband, but through several mishaps she fails miserably and is told she will never bring her family honor. She brought dishonor to her family due to her unlady-like behavior and went home crying. As she was walking and happened to look at the lake and shiny tombstone of her ancestors, serving as the mirror, she took time to look at herself at her reflection. She was asking herself when her reflection will show who she is inside.

Her views on accepted marriage tradition are different. She is wondering why must she conceal what she thinks, how she feels, must it be a secret forced to hide who she really is. A woman, for her, should be able to speak up and act the way she wants. Not just a follower of her husband but an equal in all undertakings. She realizes that when she is true to herself she breaks her family's heart. She also realizes she can't hide who she is inside. She hopes for a recognition of her true self.

When the Huns, lead by the merciless Shan-Yu attacked China, her father, Fa Zhou, who is aged and crippled, is conscripted into the Imperial Army. Mulan tried to object by saying that he couldn't go because of his situation but was told that by her father that he knows his place and it's time that...