Comparing the Representation of Female Characters in Snow White and Mulan

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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

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entertainment, Disney's animated works have remained very much in the

public consciousness despite their age. A sexist society produces

sexist entertainment, even for its children. The two qualities of

Disney animation, its age and its stylization, make sexism much easier

to see, and have resulted in much more criticism for Disney than for

other companies producing entertainment for children. The fact that

Disney movies are marketed toward children also increases concerns

that they support sexism and for good reason. Society should not

impart sexist views on its youth. And although Disney may encourage

gender stereotyping it is by no means responsible for it. Disney has

produced films that do show more modern views of gender, and there are

definitely some qualities in Mulan that women should aspire to.

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