The Woman Warrior: An Analysis

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Women characters in fairy tales enforces innate characteristics that women are expected to have. Women are expected to be graceful, self-denying, self-sacrificing, modest, submissive, chase, affable, pure, and polite (Gilbert and Gubar 23), while being “slim, pale, and immobile in a porcelain-like manner (25). However, men are prepared to be competitive, authoritarian, and power-hungry (Zipe 3). In the story of “Mulan”, a young woman cross dresses as a man to join the military, in each version, her reasons for joining are slightly different. Many readers view Mulan as a symbol of women empowerment, however it can be argued that Mulan is another representation of the enforcement of innate female characteristics that are popular in the American…show more content…
The second chapter titled the White Tiger can be considered a more modernized and Americanized version of “The Ballad of Mu-lan,” however there are many variation and similarities between the two. This version was written in 1976 and was used to address many of the differences between American and Chinese culture and gender stereotypes that Kingston faced as an immigrant. In this version, Fa Mu-Lan also choses to go to war for her father. However, in “The Woman Warrior”, the Fa Mu-Lan decides to follow a bird up to the highest mountain where she meets an elderly couple who provide her with food and shelter. This couple enquires if she would be interested in learning the ways of the dragon. Fa Mu-Lan decides that she is interested and is trained for fifteen years by the couple. This is important because it demonstrates that this is a more modernized version of the tale focusing on American culture norms such as allowing young women to make choses in their lives about what they want, such as becoming a warrior. However, a couple of times in the story Fa Mu-Lan wishes to abandon training and return home because she is lonely, thus introducing a magical element that was not present in the original fairy tale. Whenever Fa Mu-Lan is missing home, she uses a magical water gourd so she may view what her family…show more content…
As a child, she has listened to the quote that “there’s no profit in raising girls. Better to raise geese than girls (47),” this is because no matter how much work a family puts into a daughter, she will always leave them when she gets married and moves into her husband’s home so she may take care of his family and their children. With this book, she questions the roles that have been forced upon her because of her culture and the new stereotypes she experiences in America. By incorporating magic into her fairy tale, it becomes an acceptable way for the character Fa Mu-Lan to escape gender stereotypes and her husband. Only in this magical land is she allowed to be a female warrior and train in the magical arts. Once she returns to the real world, she must dress as a man when she is in battle, if she wishes to display her true strength. Once she is no longer needed as a warrior she must return to the accepted female characteristics as a wife, daughter, and mother. This is because no matter what a woman does, in fairy tales these characteristics are permanent, and must be returned to by the end of the story. No matter how accomplished or strong Fa Mu-Lan becomes, her skills only matter when she is dressed and perceived to be a man. Regardless of modernization or the American culture, the female stereotype remains strong. The character of
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