Date of Award


Degree Type

UG Dissertation (Restricted)



First Advisor

Dr. Wing Chun Julia Chan


Hua Mulan, the heroine of the ancient Chinese literature The Ballad of Mulan, was also the blueprint for Disney’s two adapted films: the animated film Mulan (1998) and the live action Mulan (2020), which both achieved worldwide impact in the context and perspective of Western culture. However, the character of Mulan gradually changed as it was transmitted and accepted in Western society, and her story was reshaped by cross cultural adaptations that reconstructed the plot and values, generating different adaptations in different contexts and art forms. The question of Mulan’s image has been widely debated in cross-cultural and feminist field, with scholars such as Yuan Tian arguing that in their adaptation of The Ballad of Mulan, a historical Chinese legendary text, Disney’s animated film adaptation reflected a misinterpretation of Eastern culture; and Zhuoyi Wang indicated Mulan (2020) is filled with deliberately feminist undertones. However, these articles and perspectives have not adequately addressed the issue of Mulan’s gender identity in the three texts, as a consequence, they lacked an account of the differences in her image positioning in the particular social and cultural contexts of different adaptations.

In this paper, I will interpret and discuss Mulan’s different identities among these texts from the perspective of gender role, with special attention of androgyny theory. Specifically, in my project, I will first describe in detail the androgyny methodology used in the essay, then analyze Mulan’s variation of her images on account of her dissimilated gender functions: goddess, princess and witch, in three texts under this theory, and eventually summarize the obstacles and challenges she has to face as a female gender presence. This essay will demonstrate how Disney fantasy misunderstood the goddess Mulan’s image in the original ballad by forcing the addition of feminist ideologies in its two film adaptations. In conclusion, this project, by closely examining the variation of Mulan’s image, sheds new light on the little recognized issue of how feminist consciousness wasted the potential for thinking more widely about the androgynous figure in the original ballad.



Recommended Citation

Xing, Y. X. K. (2023). Goddess, princess or witch: variation of Hua Mulan in Disney film adaptations (UG dissertation, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from