Comparing the Representation of Female Characters in Snow White and Mulan
Disney is an international film company that dominates full-length
feature animations. Two feature long cartoons, Snow White (1937) and
Mulan (1999), are good examples where a female character takes the
central role, Snow White being from the first half of the 20th century
and Mulan from modern times. Between the times when these films were
made, one might expect the representation of women may have changed,
(as female equality has improved) as well as some of the stereotypes
of women that Disney has been criticised of conveying in the past.
Before Mulan was created Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'The
Little Mermaid' had already marked a significant change in the
portrayal of women, but it can still be argued that behind the
audacious, attractive, and determined characters they are still happy
homemakers just waiting to settle down.
Other traditional Disney heroines are characters like Aurora (Sleeping
Beauty) and Cinderella. In many ways they are similar to Snow White
and became examples of how to act, what to do, and what was accepted
and expected as a role model or just a woman. All three of them are
shy, passive, and naïve towards the evils of the world. Their
appearance in many ways relates to their personalities. They lack
detail, are flawless, and are extremely unrealistic.
Snow White is portrayed, at the beginning of the film, as an innocent
obedient, domestic child, who dreams of finding the man she will
marry, but is inactive in doing so. In comparison with Snow White at
the start of the film, Mulan is very different. Although Mulan wants
to be conventional/ traditional she is disorganised and clumsy. She is
sacrifices herself and tries to be dutiful to uphold the family honour
despite the fact that in actuality she feels as if she is trying to
impersonate somebody she could never be.
Snow White is depicted as a timid, young girl, naïve towards the
dangers that threaten her. Once her evil stepmother sends a huntsman
to kill Snow White her fate is in the hands of a man, much like the
power in the world at that time. Since Snow White was made there has
been many changes in the way women are treated, they have much more
power and autonomy, and this is visible in Mulan. Instead of following
the rules of society Mulan opposes and challenges them.
It is hard to imagine Snow White resisting society's regulations. Snow
White represents the submissive women before the feminist revolution
and agrees to keep the house, cook, make beds, wash, sew and keep
everything neat and tidy. She illustrated that the place for women was
in the house, instilled in the domestic expectations of domesticity
for women in society. Mulan does none of the kind. She instead charges
off to join the army in the place...