by Gail Carson Levine
Analysis: Writing Style
Clever; Creative; Subtle
How can a writing style be clever? Does it tie your shoelaces into knots when you're not looking? We wouldn't put it past Ella Enchanted, because if you're not paying close attention, you just might miss something.
We're told repeatedly that Ella is clumsy, but the narration cleverly shows us how true this is. For instance, when Mandy cautions Ella to be careful with a bowl that she's drying, the next thing written is: "The order came too late. I got the broom" (4.69).
So, if you're skimming instead of reading, you'll miss clever little narrative tidbits like this one. (She broke the bowl.) Subtlety is the name of the game, kids.
The writing style is clever because Ella is clever. Ella has Hattie answering questions under the influence of bogweed and asks, "What are your secrets?" (11.32). Hattie doesn't answer, but rather tugs on Ella's hair. It's only after Ella reads a letter from Dame Olga, asking if Hattie had found a trustworthy hairdresser, that Ella is able to put two and two together: Hattie wears a wig, and is jealous of Ella's hair. Crafty!
We're also characterizing the style as creative, because Ella narrates much of the book, and she has a playful way of viewing the world. She visits the dragon in the royal zoo and describes him thus: "He was beautiful in his tiny ferocity and seemed happiest when flaming, his ruby eyes gleaming evilly" (6.10).
Check out all the descriptive words Ella uses: "beautiful," "ferocity," "happiest," and "evilly." It's fun to read, and it's really creative.
It also takes a creative mind to come up with the metaphors Ella uses to describe her experiences. When Char tells Ella to wait for him at the second ball: "I grew roots. The clock struck a quarter before eleven. It struck eleven. If it had struck the end of the world, I'd have stayed as I was" (27.65). This is creative—she compares herself to a tree—and it's also a little poignant, with a phrase like "If it had struck the end of the world."
This mix of funny, clever, subtle, and creative makes Ella's voice and style really appealing—and it keeps us reading.