Audience: Children/All Ages
List the characters in the story and give a thorough description of each one. Consider physical, emotional, relational, social status, and occupational characteristics.
Fa Mulan/Ping-The main character of the story, Mulan is a young woman of marriageable age. The story shows early on that Mulan is intelligent and kind, willing to help others around her, especially those who can’t help themselves. She continues throughout the story to be a strong young woman, willing to take her father’s place so that he won’t die fighting against the Huns even though she knows that if she were found out that she would be executed. She continues to show her courage when she charges the Hun army with a single cannon, shooting it at a snow covered mountain with Shan Yu only three feet in front of her.
Fa Zhou-Zhou is Mulan’s elderly father. When Zhou is drafted to the Chinese army in response to the approaching Hun army, Mulan disguises herself as a man to take his place, hoping to save him even though she is likely to be killed herself.
Fa Li-Mulan’s mother, Li is anxious for her daughter to be married.
Shan Yu-Shan Yu is the leader of the Hun army, and thus Mulan’s main adversary. He is a merciless warrior who feels like he has been challenged by the Chinese when they built the Great Wall.
Captain Li Shang-Shang is the leader of the group of soldiers Mulan is attached to. He is a strong warrior, the son of one of China’s most renowned generals. Though he is young, he is given a commanding position, eventually, throughout the course of the movie, proving himself to be a worthy leader. When he discovers Mulan is a woman, he spares her life, though the law said that he ought to kill her for her deception.
Mushu-Mushu is a dragon who acts as Mulan’s protector and counselor. He was once one of the guardians of the Fa family, but was demoted, and now desperately wants his job back.
Ling-Ling is extremely thin and tall. He is also one of the soldiers that becomes friends with Mulan. He is always trying to crack jokes, but most of them are not funny.
Chien-Po-Chien-Po is the most laid back of the threesome that becomes friends with Mulan. He is big and round, and loves to eat.
Shi Fu-Shi Fu is the Emperor’s consul who is put in charge of watching over the training of the new troops. He is very critical of Shang, commenting that he was given the command instead of earning it, and often alludes to the fact that his report he is preparing will be an unfavorable one.
Point of View
Who tells the story?
3rd person narrator
Write a sentence stating the time and place of the story. If nothing is mentioned, give your best estimate.
The story is set during a period loosely based on the Han Dynasty in China.
Write a paragraph summarizing the story (6-8 sentences).
The beginning of the story finds Mulan preparing for her audience with the matchmaker, hoping to make a good impression so that she can fulfill her only duty in life—to make a good match and bear sons. Despite her preparations, she is thrown out of the matchmaker’s home in disgrace, and told she will never bring her family honor. When her elderly father is drafted to the Chinese army to combat the threat of the Hun army, Mulan dresses as a man and takes his place. She manages to keep up the disguise throughout training, but she is injured during combat against the Hun army before she uses the last remaining cannon to bury the Huns in an avalanche of snow, and her deception is discovered. Captain Li Shang spares her life, but sends her home in disgrace while the rest of the army travels to the Imperial City to inform the Emperor of their victory, leaving her as the only one to see a small force of Huns pull themselves out of the snow. Though no one believes her when she tries to warn them about the Huns, she saves the Emperor and defeats Shan Yu, saving China.
What type of conflict do you see in the story? Give specific examples. Distinguish between major and minor conflicts.
Man vs. Environment, or Mulan vs. the cultural standards, is a major, and arguably, the main theme of the movie. Throughout the story, Mulan finds she is unable to do what she feels is right because of the way women are viewed in Chinese society. She fights these cultural standards by disguising herself as a boy in order to fight in the Chinese Army in her elderly father’s place, and later, after she has been discovered to be a female, by saving China from an small attack on the Emperor by the Huns.
Man vs. Himself is a minor conflict, seen as Mulan struggles to reach the standards for the troops in the Chinese army. This conflict reaches its climax when she is cast out of the army, but impresses Captain Li by accomplishing the seemingly impossible task he had set the first day of training where she climbed a tall pole, approximately 40 feet tall, to retrieve an arrow at the very top while wearing two weights on her hands.
Man vs. Man, or Mulan vs. Shan Yu, is a major conflict that culminates into the climax of the entire movie. Shan Yu is set and determined to destroy China, and after she is expelled from the army for being a female, Mulan finds evidence that he survived an avalanche. She realizes he is heading for the capital to hurt the Emperor. Convincing the other soldiers to sneak into the barred Imperial Palace, she confronts Shan Yu, firing a large firework rocket at him on the rooftop, defeating him.
State the main theme or message of the story in universal terms that apply to everyone, regardless of age, race, or gender.
Courage is being willing to do what’s right no matter the consequences.
List at least three different examples of literary devices used in the story.
Analogy-Zhou uses an analogy when comparing Mulan to a cherry blossom that has not bloomed. The Emperor later expands on this analogy when he says, “A flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful of all.”
Foreshadowing-When the Huns pop out of the snow, there is a brief discussion about the Emperor, letting the viewer know where they were going.
Simile-There are several similes used in the course of the movie, for example, “They popped out of the snow, like daisies!”
What is your overall opinion of this story and why?
Mulan is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies. Many times throughout the story, Mulan shows herself to be courageous and selfless in the face of danger. She desires to do what is right, no matter what the consequences are for herself. And in the end, she is “the bravest of us all.”