Before the existence of printers in every office, university, and backroom, fairytales used to be shared orally. Imagine people crowded around a fire like kids at a Halloween sleepover, trying to see who could spook their friends out the most. Bards who went around telling stories were also forced to memorize them and inevitably changed a few details with each retelling. Mothers who heard the story would change them to teach their kids good manners, fathers to try and make them obedient, and so on. It was basically a long and hard game of telephone because those kids would grow up and retell the fairytales with their own random edits.
Luckily for us, some rare versions got written down and guys, they were not the rainbow-and-unicorn ones we’ve grown up with. Our ancestors’ unsubtle efforts to keep their kids in line and out of deep dark forests led to the existence of some stories that would be firmly in the 18+ range and in the spirit of Halloween (pun intended) we’re going to bring back some old ghosts. This Halloween month, we’re going to put a spotlight on some of these old stories and let you decide how you feel about them as opposed to the originals. If it’s nighttime, here is when you turn back. Or not. Happy reading!
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A Girl Worth Fighting For
The time is such when representation and diversity play a very important role. Some would say a story isn’t a story till there is representation. This is also one of the prime reasons why Disney had swiftly released the live-action production of Mulan in 2020.
As it happens with all live-action remakes, Mulan was also welcomed with mixed reactions. Though everyone applauded the cast and crew for their great work, many were disappointed by the story being re-adapted. What is not commonly known is that Disney’s first production of Mulan too was an adaptation of a Chinese story. In the original story, Mulan’s real name was Hua Mulan and she was a warrior woman.
There are many versions and renditions of the original tale; the magic of oral storytelling is that it gives more than it creates. Mulan’s tale was set in 1695 where she was the eldest sister to her many younger sisters and one baby brother. She took her father’s place in the army as he was an old sickly man.
Unlike the movie, she was not the only female to have joined the army as the then King’s daughter was also a warrior. In addition to that, Mulan and the army were not able to win the war. The king was taken down which forced the army to surrender and the lady warriors stepped up to be put to death instead. They were not killed but instead were given money by the king’s mother so that they could return to safety.
Mulan went back to her home village where unfortunately she found her father had passed away and her mother gone, married to someone else. As she had no one to take care of her or anyone willing to marry her, she was forced to be a concubine. Rather than subjecting herself to prostitution, she chose to kill herself and so she burnt herself alive.
There are many other renditions of the same story which have a happier ending. She gets married or is honored with a high-ranking position or is an object of a surprise to the army who believed her to be a male like them. In all fairness, none of them featured a charming army general to whisk her into a Disney future.
If you liked this article, be sure to keep an eye out for the next edition of Freaky Fairytales!
Featured Image Via Kayla Torres/Bookstr