Ella Enchanted- Cliché all over again or Not??

Ella Enchanted is a novel by Gail Carson Levine, first published in 1997. The novel has been adapted into a movie of the same name in 2004, starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy in lead roles. This is my train of thought, upon reading the novel. I have to give a fair warning – This review contains too many spoilers. It is kind of a moot point, considering that the novel is modeled after one of the greatest fairy tales of all times – Cinderella!

It has all the markings of a cliché. It incorporates all the classic elements of a fairy tale. That does not come as a surprise, considering that this is, after all, a retelling of Cinderella.

1. There’s the damsel in distress (Or that’s what I thought, at the inception.)- Ella (Eleanor) of Frell

2. The Prince Charming – Prince Charmont(!)

3. The mother who dies prematurely, and the father who’s constantly away from home

4. The evil step-family – Dame Olga and her daughters Hattie and Olive

5. The fairy godmother, fairies, elves, giants and the paraphernalia

Here’s the synopsis in a sentence – Consider a scenario where Cinderella (Only she’s named Ella in this spin-off.) is “cursed” at birth. The curse/gift is bestowed upon her by the rather ostentatious and misguided fairy, Lucinda, who’s widely feared for her seemingly innocent, albeit appalling “gifts”, the gift of obedience in this case. Allow for a major twist ( tailored to suit Ella and her curse ) when the story reaches its climax, rename the characters and there you have it! – That’s Ella Enchanted for me.

I’m not lashing out against this book, in fact, I loved and enjoyed the book. I have to admit one thing – there is something liberating about fairy tales. They relieve me of my stress, helps much me break free from all tension! I found Ella Enchanted, a refreshing break – I’ll give that much to Gail Carson Levine. Unlike all the stories in this genre, this novel does not have the predictable ending where the prince rescues the damsel in distress, whereupon they live happily ever after.

It is Ella, who is her own knight in shining armour. She finds her inner strength, amid an internal conflict – where her compulsion to obey is pitted against her will to save Charmont, Kyrria, and ultimately, herself, from the ramifications of the cruel curse. And that is what I like about this book – for once, here’s a maiden who does not need a saviour. Of course, Prince Charmont paved the way to break the curse, but it is Ella who overcomes her fears. At least, there is no nonsensical true love’s kiss (Yes, that’s my view – hope no one’s offended!) in this version!

© 2015 Shweta Suresh. All rights reserved.

Image Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ella_Enchanted


4 thoughts on “Ella Enchanted- Cliché all over again or Not??

  1. I should have stopped reading once you said there would be spoilers. A Cinderella turned from obedient slave to master of her own destiny you say? Ill watch the movie then. Anne Hathaway is in it? Ill definitely watch it then


    1. Yeah, I did give a fair warning..So, don’t blame me! 😀 . But don’t worry, the movie is only loosely based on the book. It’s almost entirely different, they have even introduced new characters and all. Of course! Anne Hathaway portrays Ella. I didn’t know you were a die-hard Anne Hathaway fan!!


  2. Hey ,really liked the review .It was definitely spot on. I mean I myself enjoy reading light and happy stories as these, but what made it all the more better was that Ella finds her own way…There was no knight in shining Armour or Fairy Godmother’s magic. Just plain all will power and that’s all the magic you need.
    Although i should add that i liked the ending of “Ella Enchanted ,The movie” better .It has more logic to it .I mean the part where Ella breaks her own curse.But the book has more depth to it as books usually do. We can see Ella , growing as a person all the while trying, desperately to break her curse ,which leads to many dangerous but funny situations. The friendship between Ella and Prince Charmont was well carried too. It wasn’t the cliche’ Love at First Sight’ but a more whole and sweet romance.I especially liked the part where Ella herself falls under a spell unknowingly .(it was really funny).If you like”Ella Enchanted” book, then you would definitely like “Cinder and Ella ” by Kelly Oram too.Same theme but the story line has a modern twist to it and its a great read.There’s a story for every character and enables us to sympathize with not only Ella but even her step sisters but i think especially her Step Mother.No more Spoilers .Read it and hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am in total agreement with you! That is, precisely what sets this book apart. Sure, Cinder and Ella is now on my reading list. You know I always enjoy your recommendations! 🙂


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