Hello everyone! I'm Veronica (a.k.a. ApplesauceDoctr :D), and hey, it's been a little while since I've written an article. It feels good to get back into the spirit of writing. :D
So, what have I today? As you can see, I'll be analyzing the song "Reflection" from Disney's Mulan. I made a lyric video for it about a week ago and realized just how deep the song is! However, in this analysis, I'll also be taking a look at the extended version of the song. It shows a different side of Mulan that...well, you'll see soon enough.
Alright then! Let's take a listen to Reflection!
Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I'm not meant to play this part?
From this, we can see that Mulan knows that she can't be what society expects her to be - that perfect porcelain doll. It's just not going to happen, and as a result, she questions herself. If she's not that perfect bride or daughter, then what is she? Who is she supposed to be?
Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family's heart
This excerpt here makes me think of Elsa. And Hercules. All of these characters want to just be themselves and fit in, but it's not that easy. For Mulan, she wants to be herself, but not if it means disappointing her family. She truly loves and respects them and is willing to try to be what society expects of her in order to maintain a good family image. As we've discussed, though, she can't do this, thus bringing us to the chorus:
Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection
Someone I don't know?
For some reason, I never really understood what Mulan meant by this, and here I am right now feeling like a complete dunce. xD
Whenever Mulan sees her reflection, she sees what she's trying to be - the "perfect porcelain doll". You know this by now. But she knows that's not who she is. She wants to be her true self while at the same time making her family proud. Of course, she feels that she can't be herself without giving the Fa family a bad name.
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am, though I've tried
When will my reflection show
Who I am
(That last line is repeated, by the way. ;D)
This basically re-establishes what she's already been saying. She hides her true self to try and fit society's expectations, yada yada. She awaits the day, if indeed there is a day, when she can be herself and not worry about dishonoring the family.
I'll bet (not really) you're thinking, "Wow, that's it? Short song." Indeed. It's a gorgeous song, but rather short. We'll now take a look at the extended version of the song. Why was the song trimmed? Let's find out!
Who is that perfect bride?
It's not me, though I've tried
When will my reflection show
Who I am
The looking-into-the-mirrors bit should look familiar, as does this excerpt entirely. The only real way this contrasts with the previous excerpt I showed is that instead of her admitting to hiding herself, here, it's more directly related to what just happened in the movie *cough cough Matchmaker cough*.
The next excerpt is where the contrast comes in.
How I pray
That a time will come, I can free myself
From their expectations
You know how the movie version mainly focuses on her wanting to please her family? I mean, yeah, she does want to be accepted as herself, but only if she can do so in an "honorable" way.
That gets thrown off a bit here. This suggests that she wants to be devoid from society's expectations altogether in order to live the life she wants. Let's continue on to see where I'm going with this.
On that day
I'll discover someway to be myself
And to make my family proud
Wait, haven't we gone over this already? Yep, we sure have! No need to talk this over again. It's the next stanza we want to take a look at.
They want a docile lamb
No one knows who I am
Must there be a secret me
I'm forced to hide?
Alright, let's see. She's saying that society is basically like this: We don't know who you are, and frankly, we don't care. But we expect you to be perfect. Got that? For someone they hardly know, society's putting a huge weight on Mulan's shoulders, and she's not happy about this. From that last line, she doesn't seem too satisfied with being "forced to hide" herself.
This is the part that makes this extended version of the song seem questionable in respect to what we actually saw in the movie. It makes Mulan seem a bit more selfish. Sure, she brings up wanting to make her family proud, but the extended song primarily focuses on how she feels with these expectations. She's had it. She just wants to come right out and be herself without the tension of fitting into the role of the "docile lamb".
Must I pretend that I'm
Someone else for all time?
When will my reflection show
Who I am
This excerpt makes my point much more clear. What makes the extended version and movie version similar is the fact that Mulan obviously wants to be herself. However, in the movie version, she seems mostly disappointed that her efforts to fit in don't work, and she hopes that she'll be able to make her family proud someday. Here, though, Mulan seems bitter about the fact that society has set these expectations on her. She's sick and tired of pretending to be someone she's not.
So, let's quickly compare and contrast the two. :D
- Mulan wants to be herself
- Mulan wants to make her family proud
- Emphasis on wanting personal freedom from society's wishes
- Bitter about these aforementioned wishes
- Bitter about hiding herself
- Mostly just emphasis on her desire to be herself; no detectable bitterness
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading this, as I had a ton of fun writing it. :) You may want to check out my link song analysis of "If You Can Dream" from a while back.
I'll bet that you either a) are going to listen to the extended song right now or b) already have, haha. :D
Well, that about wraps things up! Thanks so much for reading! Adios!
*sigh* I hate goodbyes. D':
LavenderHills, avatar_tla_fan and 2 others like this
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