In the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Ella Enchanted, Ella has a particularly mortifying experience with Hattie, and then she gets hope. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Ella Enchanted.
Chapter Eleven / Chapter Twelve
- Gail Carson Levine confirms for us in this chapter that it’s Areida who provides the only real happiness that Ella feels in finishing school. Her experience in this place is a constant struggle, and her curse is only part of the problem. It’s the culture of this place that upsets her, too! These people value a certain kind of woman: one who is rich, dainty, and demure, or in some cases, one who just appears this way. Given the way that Ella has grown up, all these ideas are in direct contradiction to what she wants. She doesn’t care about money. She grew up clumsy. And because of her curse, she has a rebellious streak within in. (THAT I ADORE, I JUST NEED TO SAY THAT AGAIN.)
- Even though she does improve at her daily tasks, Ella doesn’t really catch a break from the mistresses either. They start to treat her like a pet, and the behavior is most likely dehumanizing to her. So she goes back to playing games with those who order her around by taking their demands as literally as possible. The real crux of this, though, concerns free will: “It was a tiresome game, but I had to play it or feel a complete puppet.” For Ella, this is about gaining any semblance of control and agency she can. It’s not hard for me to project my experience on this because I know what this struggle is like. I was braought up to obey my parents, but they started to demand things of me that were either impossible or contrary to my very nature. I had to make a choice to follow them or to become my own person, so yeah. I identity with Ella a lot here.
- You know, I was initially surprised that Hattie hadn’t told anyone about Ella’s condition, but you know what? It makes perfect sense. She’s selfish. Why would she share something like that with anyone else?
- And then Levine does something UNREAL: She pulls back the curtain on Hattie’s behavior. Through the use of a sprig of bogweed, Ella quickly interrogates Hattie about why she is the worst thing ever. And it’sâ€¦ good god, I DID NOT EXPECT THIS. Hattie is ENVIOUS OF ELLA. She sees things in Ella that she doesn’t see in herself, and the fears she has â€“ there’s a long list of them here â€“ have left her feeling inadequate. She wants nothing more than to be queen, but how can she be with all of her own insecurities? So she takes out these fears on Ella, the girl who can’t disobey a command. This definitely makes Hattie out to be a much more full character.
- Who I still don’t like. I DON’T. I understand her more, but otherwise NOPE.
- It really doesn’t change much for Ella, though, who must continue playing her rebellious game just to keep her sense of self intact throughout this disaster. But she’s also got Areida, who is sympathetic, kind, and supporting. She’s everything that a good friend is. Which is why the end of this chapter is so relentlessly heartbreaking. Hattie sees Ella experiencing happiness, and so she commands Ella not to be friends with Areida anymore.
- And Levine doesn’t ignore what an absolutely soul-crushing thing this is for Ella. The opening of chapter twelve is a difficult read. We know that Areida was the last bit of hope that Ella had in her life, and now she’s got to figure out the complicated machinations of trying to obey the order she was given and not hurt Areida in the process. But there’s no way around it, is there? She’ll have to hurt her only friend.
- That night, Ella turns to Mandy’s book, which reveals a set of letters from various people, but none of them are for her. Which is interesting! Does the book show her what she needs? Anyway, there’s a letter from Dame Olga to her daughters, exhibiting once more just how detached some of these parents are from their daughters. It’s no wonder Hattie turned out the way she did.
- Prince Dreamboat is off being a dreamboat and possibly fighting ogres??? Oh god. Can.. can there not be more tragedy? If he gets hurt, Ella’s going to be VERY UPSET.
- Wow, Ella’s father is basically a huge racist. Of species? Or something. He uses that slur for elves again, and speaks about the possibility of convincing fairies who might show up to a giantess’s wedding to give him “fairy-made trifles.” Does he think of anything that isn’t money? EVER???
- But it’s through this letter that Ella finds a new thing to hope for. If fairies tend to show up at weddings, wouldn’t that mean that Lucinda might be at the wedding Uaaxee’s daughter? It’s a slim chance â€“ one Ella openly acknowledges â€“ but it’s something. Ella just lost her best and only friend because of Hattie, and that’s why she leaps at the opportunity to escape this horrible school and these horrible people to POSSIBLY LIFT THE CURSE. It’s a quest, y’all. SHE FOUND A QUEST.
- She also took Hattie’s wig. SNATCHED IT. Oh god, I love it.
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