Mark Reads ‘Ella Enchanted’: Chapters 3 / 4

In the third and fourth chapters of Ella Enchanted, Ella learns more about her past and her mother, and then her father is REALLY WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Ella Enchanted.

Well, I officially have no clue what’s going on.

Chapter Three / Chapter Four

  • I love that this chapter opens with the idea of comfort, and for Ella, that means the familiar things in her room, all the ones that were “just as it had been before Mother died.” It’s both haunting and touching, and Gail Carson Levine doesn’t shy away from the fact that Ella is in grief. It’s all over these chapters! And as someone who didn’t really have a healthy way to deal with grief when my father died, it’s comforting to know that there was a book out there for people to read when they might be younger that has something like this in it.
  • Hey, look at that, I’ve developed ridiculous emotional attachments to a fictional story in less than 30 pages. Zero people are surprised. ZERO.
  • So yeah, Ella’s curse is explicitly physical. It manifests as physical pain. That’s… super messed up. Wow. And despite this, she still finds ways to be rebellious. Y’all, it’s only a matter of time before this book crushes my emotions. It has too many things I love in fiction in just the first 36 pages.
  • We meet Dame Olga and her absolutely bizarre children, Hattie and Olive, in this chapter, and I’m still bewildered by the experience. At first, I just assumed they were a bit shy and stiffy, products of a vicious education or a mother who made certain they were perfect little ladies. But then Hattie started talking and SHE IS SO UPFRONT AND BRUTALLY HONEST. Who is this child? Where did she learn this? Why are you counting everything? She’s barely older than Ella and she’s already concerned about money and being rich. And does their mother seriously tell them not to eat because she’s worried about their weight? I feel like there is some huge mystery at hand here to be unearthed, and I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.
  • As if this wasn’t surreal enough, Ella looks down at a rug that normally sat under her mother’s chair, and she experiences… I actually don’t know what that was. A vision? A portent? A glimpse of the past? She could feel the cramp of one of the men in the vision! How is that possible? Even more strange is the fact that Hattie and Olive could see Ella react to this thing that just happened to her. So… what? What?
  • “I forgive you, child. We in the peerage are forgiving. Your poor mother used to be known for her ill breeding too.” WHAT KIND OF CHILD SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS? And what is she referring to? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
  • That’s why I was surprised by Levine answering a great deal of them immediately. The first thing I noticed? Mandy said, “Seems like those people didn’t eat for a week.” Okay, so the whole group were ravenously hungry? Not just the two kids? I AM SO CONFUSED.
  • I gotta respect a novel that, on page 25, drops a plot twist like the one here: Mandy is a fairy. She’s just casually the house cook, too. HOW??? Why would you even remain in this house if you were a fairy?
  • And then we get chapter four, which is both a necessary bit of exposition and some (admittedly strange) character building for Ella’s father, Sir Peter. The fairy mythology that Gail Carson Levine introduces us to is SO MUCH FUN. I love that she seems so nonchalant about the fact that she’s a SUPERNATURAL BEING.
  • We also find out the answer to a very necessary question: If Mandy is a fairy, then why did Ella’s mother die?
  • “If she’d left the hair in my curing soup, she’d be well today.”
  • Wow, this is SO MESSED UP.
  • I’m comforted by the fact that Mandy could not care to actually demonstrate that she’s a fairy. She’s got more important things to do at the moment. Like the dishes.
  • But it’s more than that. It’s almost like there’s a hierarchy of fairies, with Lucinda on the top. I’m interested to know if fairies in this world have different powers from one another, or if they’ve all got the same limited ones. On top of that, we’ve got the fascinating justification for keeping fairies a secret: “People only like the idea of fairies. When they bump up against a particular, real-as-corn fairy, there’s always trouble.” Right here, we get an instant acknowledgment that people would be entitled when they found out someone was a fairy. And I think Ella confirms this by demanding, multiple times, that Mandy do magic for her on the spot.
  • However, it’s not that simple. Mandy urges Ella to use her imagination when she refuses to stop the rain, despite that she probably could do so. It’s all cause and effect, and I love the idea of forcing Ella to consider the ramifications of her actions. That’s rad!
  • Why are Bertha and Mandy so scared of Ella’s father???
  • I mean, the dude is awful, but I feel like I still don’t know the real reason why.
  • Still, the final part of this chapter, where Sir Peter essentially interrogates his own daughter to learn “who she is” is just SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s your daughter. How have you gone through this much of her life without knowing who you are? Why would you show her that beautiful elven castle, only to tell her that you’re selling it? Are you deliberately cruel???
  • God, his laughter. It’s unnerving, and I don’t like it. What is he planning??? HE IS PLANNING SOMETHING, I KNOW IT. Oh god, is he going to send her to finishing school anyway???
  • What is this book??? I still don’t know what’s going on!

Please note that the original text/videos contain uses of the words “stupid” and “idiot.”

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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