DOI: 10.5176/2251-3566_L313.127

Authors: Li Yikun

Abstract: Hua Mulan, a legendary Chinese heroine, has gained universal appeal through numerous presentations in TV series, , movies, and literary works produced both in Chinese and English. adaptations of the story in different cultural and historical milieu reflect deeply the definition and perception of heroism and justice of different ideology. Four adaptations are chosen — “the lyrics of Mulan” (A1), an ancient Chinese poem; “White Tigers” (A2), a narrative by the Chinese-American novelist Maxine Hong Kingston; “Mulan” (A3), a Hollywood cartoon; “Hua Mulan” (A4), modern romance movie.
The four adaptations attribute basically the same qualities to Hua Mulan as a heroine, chiefly filiality to her family and nation as Confucian doctrines dictate, and the equally imposing physical and intellectual strength and exploits as man, even better. However, the four adaptations convey different shades of justice, as shown in the attitude of the family concerning Mulan's leaving for the battlefield, and the social and historical recognition of her achievements as related to her gender.
In A1, she left with the acquiescence of her family; In A2, she was the chosen avenger; in A3 and 4, she left secretly, thus erasing the moral dilemma for her family. As for the recognition, in A1, she received the recognition of the Feudal Court as a male rather than as a female. In A2, as a rebel to the oppressor and an executor to social evils, she gained the admiration of the oppressed as well as a blissful family life – a confirmation of both “male” strength and “female” merits. In A3, she was recognized as a female general though once cursed as a treacherous villainess. In A4, she was a recognized female commander forged by two male mentors. All adaptations end with her retreat to family, the traditional domain for female. Though denied access to the public social domain in her time, history has granted her due recognition as an admirable heroine.

Hua Mulan, heroine, justice, gender

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