In the ninth and tenth chapters of Ella Enchanted, Ella arrives at finishing school, and aside from a few things, it is every bit the disaster she thought it would be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Ella Enchanted.
Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten
There’s some hope given in this chapter, and you better believe I’m going to take it.
- “The day was hazy and warm, and I was almost too hot to be hungry. Hattie had energy for only one command: to fan her.” I am just at the point where I have lost the ability to describe or designate Hattie’s behavior in any meaningful way. She is just THE WORST and that’s all I’ve got. Seriously, how did she end up this way? I have a sneaking suspicion that if Dame Olga found out what her daughter was up to, she’d compliment her. UGH.
- You better believe that I was terrified that Hattie was going to command that Ella sacrifice herself to save them from the ogres. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d done so!
- Olive makes me feel conflicted things. She figures out that Ella has to obey all commands and she exploits it. Part of me thinks she really doesn’t know what she’s doing, that she’s copying her older sister. And then part of me is like SHE IS JUST A BIG WEIRDO, considering that she belches forth a “wordless roar” for a really long and unnecessary length of time to scare aware the ogres.
- So, Ella arrives at the finishing school, and things weren’t totally awful at first. Levine doesn’t ever forget about Ella’s curse, though, and I’m totally fascinated by the way in which Levine examines all the tiny ways in which such a thing would honestly affect Ella’s life. She still must obey the commands that her mistresses give her, but that doesn’t mean she suddenly becomes good at things she was terrible at. No, they still require work, though the commands? They do help! Which is kind of cool? I suppose it’s a small victory, given that Ella’s curse is largely the worst thing ever.
- AREIDA. AREIDA! A SHINING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS THAT IS THIS FINISHING SCHOOL AND THE CURSE AND HATTIE AND BLESSED BE AREIDA. Who is also a young girl of color!!! AND THE TEXT EXPLICITLY SAYS SO. Y’all, I requested that Ella get a friend AND SHE GOT ONE. Oh my god, I needed this. Wait, Ella needed this. She needed an ally. She needed sympathy. She needed just one person to treat her like a human being, and beautiful, genuine Areida plays that role.
- If my video wasn’t enough, then allow me to definitively state that anyone who punishes people by taking away their meals is basically Satan to me. You’re evil now and forever. My parents did that to me and have thus messed up my relationship to food for my whole life. Don’t. Do. It. Which is why Areida is my hero for getting Ella food. <3
- So, let’s talk about all the details of the finishing school that come about in chapter ten! This place is unmistakably girly, from the color schemes to the tasks that these young girls are set to complete. Everything about this place is centered on upholding traditional gender roles for women, which is something that Ella doesn’t exactly have much interest in. No laughing? That’s unseemly for young ladies? Oh, this is going to be unpleasant, isn’t it?
- MANDY’S LETTER TO ELLA IS NOT OKAY. But can we talk about how in nearly every other fairy tale, a character like Mandy would never be so emotionally honest with the protagonist? Mandy’s frankness shocked me, but it made so much sense. She’s always been straightforward with Ella, so why would this change once she left?
- Prince Dreamboat actually got her a centaur. Holy god.
- It’s with all this in mind that Ella begins her studies. We’re shown a myriad of scenes where Ella struggles with some new task or skill, and in each case, the commands she’s given actually help her to get better. It’s not an immediate thing, and we learn that sometimes, she has to repeat the commands to remind herself to follow them. So the curse doesn’t actually change who she is; it just controls her.
- Throughout all of this, I got the feeling that Ella knew she had to get beyond these lessons, that she had to get better or her time in the finishing school would only get worse. So I was incredibly comforted by that last paragraph. She knows this is all nonsense, and her time there would have been much different had she not been under the curse. Bless her. I love that part of her character.
Please note that the original text/videos contain a use of the word “mad.”
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