The Song of Mulan is a famous ballad about a heroine of the Northern Dynasties. In this ballad, this heroine is called Mulan. But people always call her Hua Mulan. And in 1998 Hollywood made an animated cartoon Hua Mulan. Of course, this cartoon shows a Mulan of America, not a Mulan from ancient China. I have seen a movie Joan of Arc which directed by Luc Besson, and this movie hurted seriously the image of a herine that I have known about Joan of Arc since my childhood. The movie of Luc Besson can be called a drama creation. Is Mulan just a drama creation or a literary creation?
According to the records of essayistic books or county annals, at least there are four Mulan in legends.
The first image of Mulan was a young woman who was born in modern-days Shangqiu, Henan Province in the early days of the Western Han Dynasty. Her surname was Wei. In the period of Han Wen-Emperor, Hun invaded the border, and the government conscripted armymen. Wei Mulan took the place of her father Wei Ying and joined the army. Unfortunately, she died in battle. The government gave her a title “Xiaolie” which means filial piety and heroism.
The second image of Mulan was a woman in Sui Dynasty. Her surname was Wei, too. She was the oldest child in her family, and her brothers were young. She was very worried about her old father, so when she heard the order of enlistment which resisted Turks, she was in man's clothing and took the place of her father for joining army. Mulan was wise and brave, so she was promoted to a general, but no one knew she was a woman. When the war ended, Sui Yang-Emperor gave high position and handsome salary to her, but Mulan politely refused. Mulan returned howntown, and dressed in woman’s clothing. Her battle companions were very surprised. Sui Yang-Emperor heard this information, and summoned Mulan. This despotic emperor admired the young woman and wanted her to be his concubine. Mulan said, “There isn’t a ritual that a minister becomes the spouse of a monarch.” Sui Yang-Emperor forced her, and she killed herself for moral integrity. The emperor killed many persons, and he lacked benevolence. But at this time, he was sad over the death of Mulan, and gave her a title “Xiaolie”.
The third image of Mulan was born in the early days of Tang Dynasty. Her surname was Zhu. At that time, Turks often invaded the border. Zhu Mulan’s father was ill, so Mulan dressed in man’s clothing and enlisted. And at this time, she was only 14 years old. She got battle achievements, and Tang Tai-Zong who was a great emperor of Tang Dynasty wanted her to be a general. But she declined with thanks, and returned her hometown. The emperor admired her. He gave her a title “Wuzhao-General”, and gave her the royal surname Li. But afterwards a prognosticator augured a woman whose surname was Wu would take the place of the ruling of Li’s royal family. Some crafty sycophants took advantage of the occasion and incriminated “Wuzhao-General” Zhu Mulan. Tai-Zong believed the slander, and sent messengers to the hometown and summoned her. Mulan was clever, and found the reason of summoning her. She wrote a memorial to the throne and pleaded for her. In order to show her innocent heart, she cut her chest open, and died.
The fourth image of Mulan was a valiant woman in Tang Dynasty. This Mulan’s surname was Ren. In the later days of Tang Empire, there were armed rebellions in many regions. People had to organize to resist the rebel forces for their lives. Ren Mulan was born in a rich family. In order to defend her hometown, she spent all riches of her family and enlisted thousands of brave men to organize an army. Ren Mulan dressed in man’s armor. By herself, she led her army to assault the enemies, and defeated the rebel army utterly.
In Ming Dynasty, Xu Wei, a famous writer and artist, wrote a drama about Mulan and gave her a surname Hua. So Mulan started to be called Hua Mulan. The image of Hua Mulan was popular in many operas, so people gradually forgot the real surname of Mulan and only remember Hua Mulan.
Why were the names of such several women Mulan? In fact, except a real Mulan, the same names of other women were given by later people, because they were influenced by the Song of Mulan. The stories of several Mulan were mainly recorded in essayistic books or county annals in the past several hundred years. Maybe they were from ancient legends. Though there were heroines who did as the story of the Song of Mulan, their names were not Mulan, and later people called them Mulan.
In the Song of Mulan, the image of Mulan is possibly Wei Mulan of Sui Dynasty, because Sui Dynasty was always thought to be one of the Northern Dynasties, and the time was similar to the time when that ballad appeared. The end of the ballad is that Mulan returned her hometown, dressed in woman’s clothing and met her battle companions. This shows the kind wishes of people, because people hope their heroine has a perfect ending. But the real history was always cruel. Not only Joan of Arc, but also Mulan, they died tragically. I’d rather remember the real Mulan, because the truth can cause a person to thought more and deeper. Those young women fought for their motherland, but they couldn’t get a good ending. However, filial and patriotic people still strive for their dear nation generation by generation. We can’t forget those heroic women, because they did what men ought to do.