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