"I didn't know till she was too sick. We can't stop dying." (4.9)
Mandy's explanation of why she could not save Ella's mother reveals that not even fairies have total power over life and death. Great. What's the good of having a fairy godmother if they can't even keep you alive, right?
Finishing school! … They'd try to rid me of my clumsiness, but they wouldn't be able to. So they'd punish me, and I'd punish them back, and they'd punish me some more. (4.128)
Sometimes power means being able to punish, and sometimes power means being able to resist and push back. Even though Ella's aware of how vulnerable she is to orders, she's determined to resist them even at high cost to herself. Which is pretty powerful in itself. (Just… remember to choose your battles. We don't want anyone getting suspended because of this, Shmoopers.)
Ogres weren't dangerous only because of their size and their cruelty. They knew your secrets just by looking at you, and they used their knowledge. When they wanted to be, they were irresistibly persuasive. (6.55)
The power to persuade someone to do anything you want is pretty awesome. Also pretty dangerous for other people, especially when the wielder of that power is an ogre who enjoys the taste of human flesh.
And so it went. Hattie issued commands and I retaliated. But there was no balance. Hattie was always ahead. She had the power. She held the whip. (11.39)
Oh, fun. We love being tyrannized over. Sure, Ella can take revenge on Hattie in subtle ways, but if she's powerless to disobey a direct command—and if Hattie realizes that—then she's in pretty big trouble.
I knew I was happy only because I'd been ordered to be, but the happiness was absolute. … I imagined future commands, awful ones, ones that would kill me, and I glowed at the idea of obeying them. (18.28)
What's worse than knowing you're subject to someone else's power? Knowing that you'll enjoy every minute of it. (Or maybe getting eaten by velociraptors.)
I stepped away. "If you speak to me at all today, Hattie," I hissed, "I'll snatch your wig and pass it around to the guests." (20.25)
Blackmail: one of the more effective forms of power. Ella's not normally mean-spirited, but she knows that if she lets Hattie get close enough to utter a command she's finished. So she fights back with what she's got: that Hattie doesn't want anyone to know she's wearing a wig.
The younger stepsister, Olive, said little, but the little was astonishing. She wanted to know whether people had to give me their wealth if I told them to. When I asked her why I'd want to take my subjects' money, she was surprised. "To become richer," she said as though stating the obvious. (22.51)
Well, it's a good thing that Olive isn't going to become queen. This entry from Char's journal shows that her idea of power is all wrong: she equates royal power with complete control over subjects and views its ultimate goal as wealth rather than, you know, helping keep those subjects safe and happy.
I watched Lucinda. She muttered no incantations, waved no wand. For a moment, her gaze shifted, and she seemed to stare within, not out. Then she winked at me. (26.89)
This is kind of cool, since we're used to thinking of fairy power as involving, like, dust and waving magic wands. Instead, it comes from within … just like Ella's power. (Well, she does have a little fairy blood.)
Char was looking at me with such gladness, and I loved him so. I was the cause of his joy and would be the cause of his destruction: a secret delivered to his enemies, a letter written in my own hand, a covert signal given by me, poison in his glass, a dagger in his ribs, a fall from a parapet. (29.47)
We didn't get much of a sense that being Kyrria's monarch was so dangerous, but evidently it is. In the end, Ella's determination not to be the instrument of harm to Char is what lets her save herself. Loving freely turns out to be the same as the power to determine your own life choices.
"No," I shouted. "I won't marry you. I won't do it. No one can force me!" … "Who would force you?" Char sounded shocked. (29.64-65)
Who would force Ella to marry? Well, hm, her father totally would if it would benefit him. So would Dame Olga and Hattie (and maybe Olive if she were smart enough to think of it). The fact that it doesn't occur to Char to use his status to force Ella to marry him makes him pretty unique (and marriageable) among the characters in the book.
We came to the parrot cages, my other favorite place. The birds spoke all the languages of the earth: human foreign tongues and the exotic tongues of Gnomic, Elfian, Ogrese, and Abdegi (the language of the giants). I loved to imitate them, even though I didn't know what they were saying. (6.30)
Why thank you, Ella, for that handy introduction to the languages we'll be encountering in this book. Such a considerate main character.
I hesitated. It was one thing to imitate parrots for Simon or to speak to a baby. (7.30)
It's true, parrots are no Rosetta Stone. Ella may know she's pretty awesome when it comes to languages, but she's also aware of her own limitations. Good for her!
She started to teach me right then. Once heard, always remembered is the way with languages and me. By the end of an hour I was forming short sentences. Areida was delighted. (9.48)
There goes Ella demonstrating her genius with languages again. This time there's a bonus: she's making a friend while she's at it.
"Look! Queer ducks flock together." The speaker was the tallest pupil in the school. She pronounced her l's as y's, mocking Areida's accent. (10.16)
Language can be a weapon—and not just in the mouths of toothy ogres. (Also in the well-orthodontia-ed mouths of mean girls.)
Whenever I had time, I practiced the languages, especially Ogrese. The meanings were dreadful, but there was an attraction in speaking the words. They were smooth, sleek, and slithery, the way a talking snake would sound. (10.71)
We're not saying ogres are evil or anything. But if a language sounds like Parseltongue, its speakers are probably up to no good.
Sir Stephan was quiet for a rare moment. (16.20)
Some people are talkers. We get the sense that Ella's more of a listener, unless she has something important or clever to say. Or unless she's trying to make Char laugh, which she seems to spend a lot of the book doing. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
Midmorning of my second day of servitude, Olive joined us in the kitchen. "I'm hungry," she said, although breakfast had been only an hour earlier. "Make me a white cake… No, I want Ella to do it." She stood at my side while I measured and mixed. "Talk to me." (23.48-51)
This poor kid is seriously malnourished when it comes to socialization and story time. Maybe she'd be better with language if Mum Olga had spent a little more time talking to or reading with her. Just sayin'.
"What a clever daughter I have." Mum Olga beamed at Hattie." As clever as she is beautiful," I said. They both began to answer me and stopped, confused. "Hattie isn't pretty," Olive said. (23.31-34)
Communication isn't always direct in this book. Luckily for Ella's snappy dialogue, she's under an obedience spell, not a truth spell.
Words rose in me, filled my mouth, pushed against my lips. Yes, I'll marry you. Yes, I love you. Yes! Yes! Yes! I swallowed, forcing them down, but they tore at my throat. A strangled noise erupted from me, but not words, not consent. (29.52-53)
What happens when language betrays you, when the words you speak are not your own? Welcome to Ella's life, where this nonsense happens all the time.
I refused to become a princess but adopted the titles of Court Linguist and Cook's Helper. I also refused to stay at home when Char traveled, and learned every language and dialect that came our way. (Epilogue.12)
Being translator to the king is a pretty nifty job. Since Kyrria is so multicultural, it's probably an important job, too. It warms our hearts to see Ella not giving up what she loves just because she married into the royal family.
Since Father was away from Frell, we drank the soup sitting in Mother's bed. If he had been home, I wouldn't have been in her room at all. He didn't like me to be anywhere near him, getting underfoot, as he said. (1.54)
Because nothing says "loving family" like not wanting your child to be anywhere near you. Gee, dad, way to set your daughter up to have a lot of failed relationships with really unsuitable dudes.
Everyone called it losing Mother, but she wasn't lost. She was gone, and no matter where I went—another town, another country, Fairyland, or Gnome caverns—I wouldn't find her. We'd never talk again, or laugh together. Or swim in the River Lucarno. Or slide down the banister or play tricks on Bertha. Or a million things. (2.11-12)
However dysfunctional the rest of Ella's family life is, she and her mother loved and cared for each other. This seems to give her a core of inner strength that lets her rise above the awfulness that's the rest of her family.
"I forgive you, child. We in the peerage are forgiving. Your poor mother used to be known for her ill breeding too." (3.56)
Coming from Hattie, that's almost a compliment. This statement also reinforces how much Ella is like her mother: truthful and not bound by silly things like politeness.
He looked me over. "That's my chin." He touched it, and I drew back. "Strong. Determined. That's my nose. I hope you don't mind that the nostrils flare. My eyes, except yours are green. Most of your face belongs to me." (4.117)
Sir Peter telling Ella that most of her face "belongs" to him makes us a tad uncomfortable, especially since he tries to sell her into marriage later in the book. But she did, in fact, inherit some things from him: not just physical features, but a stubborn desire to get her way. Luckily, she didn't inherit his shady ethics.
I hugged Mandy and clung to her. She disentangled herself from my arms. "Let me go, love." Planting a kiss on my cheek, she left. (5.72-73)
Ella is only related to Mandy very distantly through her fairy blood, but Mandy is one of the most caring figures in Ella's life. It goes to show that there's more to family than a mother, father, 2.5 kids, and a house with a white picket fence—or even a castle.
At the sight of them, a roar rose from the giants' stands. Giants screeched, moaned, grunted, and hummed that the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, they would be healthy for long and forever, and this was the happiest day in anybody's memory. (17.36)
Giant families: made of awesome. The down-to-earth wedding traditions combined with the support of the whole community make it seem like giants really have this whole family thing figured out.
"My darling, you must call me Mum. Mum Olga sounds so cozy." (20.2)
Hm, "cozy" is a good start—but, with Mum Olga, we'd settle for "not abusive." "Loving" can come later.
"Olga, my heart, I expect Ella to be treated with respect," Father said. "She is not to be a servant in her own home." (22.28)
Yeah, so, about that: ideally your family doesn't make you into a servant in your own home. But Dame Olga clearly has different ideas about what "family" means. That, and she seems to be punishing Ella for her father's deception in stringing Olga along by letting her think he was still rich while they were courting. Real mature, lady.
"Most welcome." Queen Daria embraced me. "I've waited long to meet the maiden my son loves." (28.40)
Not every family is dysfunctional in this book. The balls may not have been Char's idea, but at least his family wants him to meet someone he loves and can be happy with (rather than marrying him off at the first opportunity). And having a well-adjusted royal family just seems like a good idea, as these are the people in charge of, like, everything.
"You are better society than they are," I said. It was true: There was little honesty in Father but none at all in Hattie or Mum Olga. (23.5)
Ella knows her dad will do anything to turn a profit, including try to marry her off to some rich dude. But her stepfamily could probably think of far worse things to do to Ella. Nice people to have as family, eh?
We went upstairs and Hattie had to look everywhere. She opened the wardrobe in Mother's room and, before I could stop her, ran her hands over Mother's gowns. When we got back to the hall, she announced, "Forty-two windows and a fireplace in every room. The windows must have cost a trunkful of gold KJs." (3.29)
Hattie's almost as bad as Olive. She's much more calculating in her greed—literally, the kid must have a calculator in her brain to be speculating on how much money went into the manor Ella lives in.
"I'll write a letter to the headmistress, which I shall entrust to you, along with a purse filled with enough KJs to stop her protests against a last-minute pupil." (5.28)
Ella's dad, being greedy himself, knows how to get along with other greedy people, like the headmistress of the finishing school. Guess it takes one to know one.
Areida was my only comfort. … She told me about her parents, who kept an inn. They weren't wealthy, another reason she was unpopular. (11.40)
Not being rich means you don't get admitted to the Cool Girls Club at finishing school. Which is, like, totally a bummer. Not.
"Sir Peter is a witty man and a shrewd trader, but if he had admired our things as you do, we would have been gladder to let him have them." (13.63)
Sometimes, learning to recognize the inherent value in something has nothing to do with money. Art, kindness, and love—these are all things Ella values even when there's not a dollar sign attached to them. Now that's character.
"I shall have to sell our manor, our furniture, the carriage. And I shall have to sell you, in a manner of speaking. You must marry so that we can be rich again." (18.46)
Ella's dad wants to be rich again so badly that he will sell his daughter into what'll likely be a loveless marriage. An economic model that lets you treat your children like property sounds great. Love those feudal societies!
"Are we poor?" Olive asked, her voice rising in panic. "Is our money gone? Will we starve?" (22.21)
Talk about zero to 60. Olive sees being poor as absolutely the worst fate, ever—although, to be fair, starving doesn't sound like much fun at all.
Mandy tried again. "What does a rich young lady such as yourself want with the wee savings of a scullery maid?" "To make me richer. Mother and Hattie have much more than I do." She started to wail. "It's not fair." (23.66-67)
What's not fair is that we're quoting Olive in this section. A lot. Her character is one of the best examples of people who think money is everything.
When Olive made me count her money again, he was informed. "Every day she invents new hiding places for her wealth. There are coins in the hem of her gown, coins sewn into her sash, and coins buried in the stuffing of her waist roll. With all the metal concealed about her person, she had best not set foot on a boat." (25.86-87)
We'd promise to stop picking on Olive, but she's such an easy target. It really makes you wonder: how does a kid so thoroughly internalize the idea that money is everything? She's got to get it from somewhere, right?
The hall was twice as tall as Mum Olga's. Every wall was covered with tapestries: hunting scenes, court scenes, pastoral scenes. Along the walls to my right and left a line of marble pillars marched to the end of the hall. I tried not to gape. Soon I'd be counting windows. (27.2)
Ella may claim that she's about to start "counting windows," but we already know that she appreciates beautiful things for their beauty. She doesn't actually care about how much they cost, or how many of them they are; she admires them for their effect.
"Hattie, don't be a fool," Mum Olga snapped. "Don't you want to be stepsister to the queen and make her give you whatever you like?" (29.45)
Obviously, everyone's goal should be to marry into wealth. Dame Olga's family is so materialistic that it's a wonder they manage to have conversations about anything other than money. (For that matter, we're not sure that they do.)
When I opened it, instead of a fairy tale, I found an illustration of Mandy! (8.15)
Ella's fairy tale book is wicked cool: it contains not only fairy tales but also letters that other people have written, glimpses of other people's lives, and journal entries. It's a totally helpful and possibly illegal way for Ella (and us) to gain insight into what other people are thinking and doing.
In the morning, Slannen asked me to show my book to the other elves. To them, it was written in Elfian. They were enchanted and might have read all day, except that Slannen stopped them. (13.47)
Ella's fairy-made book has something for everyone in it—you see what you want to see. It's like a pre-modern iPad, fully loaded with apps.
I dropped the letter, afraid to read on. If Father wrote I must marry the earl, I would have to do it. (19.66)
Reading can be dangerous: if Ella reads a direct order addressed to her, she'll have to carry it out, willing or not. So, we get the idea that writing and speech are really closely related. What's written down can have the same effect as what's said.
I closed the book and whispered to its spine, "Don't erase the letter, please." (10.43)
Mandy's letters to Ella are the only thing she has from home that make her feel loved (since it's not like her dad cares enough to write, or cares that much at all, really). Writing is a way for people to show affection—so it seems fitting that the people who totally lack affection, like Hattie and Olive, are bad writers.
"I'll write to you. You shall know all my doings. Will you write to me in return?" "Yes, but I'll have no doings, or few. I shall invent, and you'll have to decide what is real." (21.93-94)
Thus Char and Ella's courtship-in-writing begins. Inventive as always, Ella teases him with the promise of spicing up their correspondence with made-up events.
Although weeks passed without an answer from Father, my first letter from Char arrived only ten days after I'd sent mine to him. Then letter followed letter for the first six months of his absence, while I heard nothing from Father, and saw nothing of him either. (24.10)
It's not a good sign when your own flesh and blood can't be bothered to write back to you. But having a prince for a pen pal is a pretty good substitute.
With each of his letters I fell more in love with him. But I couldn't tell him. If I said I was old enough to marry and his question had only been the continuation of a good joke, he would be horribly embarrassed and our easy friendship would be ruined. He might stop writing, which I couldn't endure. If he wasn't jesting, it was for him to say so. Until then or never, I treasured our correspondence. (24.44)
The letters from Char are pretty much the only good thing in Ella's life (besides having Mandy around) while she's forced to serve her stepfamily. It helps that his letters are articulate and charming enough for, well. Prince Charming. Er, Charmont.
The whole page was full of blots and cross-outs. Each letter was formed with a wobbly hand, as though the writer didn't know how to hold a pen. Poor Olive! (16.38)
We know it's not nice to keep making fun of Olive, but the girl can hardly string two sentences together, and her writing style is just one more example of how poorly educated she is—despite coming from a wealthy family. (Yet another reminder that money isn't everything).
The only subjects that came easily were those taught by Writing Mistress: composition and ciphering. (10.69)
Well, duh. It's no surprise that writing comes naturally to Ella: she's already shown us that she's good at everything having to do with language.
The sister could have no reason to lie to me. If Ella and I had married, she would only gain. But Ella's note convinced me in the end. It was in her hand, and the last phrase about smiling at her jewels and laughing at the world was certainly her own. … She charmed me as easily as she did the ogres. … But her letters were the greatest deception of all. She seemed so good-hearted. (25.81-83)
Ella's such a good writer that she can convince Char—who's no dummy—that she never loved him, in order to protect him from the effects of her curse. It's tragic that she uses her gift with words to break his heart. (Spoiler: she ends up marrying him.)
"A fine affair. All of Frell came, everyone who counts anyway," he said, as though Mother's funeral had been a tournament or a ball. (2.46)
Talking about your wife's funeral in terms of the social cred of its attendees? Definitely the classy thing to do. Good work, Sir Peter.
"Ella is not outfitted in accordance with her station, Sir Peter. My girls have eight trunks between them." (7.44)
Materialistic much, Dame Olga? Fortunately, Ella doesn't seem to agree with the equation of high social standing and having a pimpin' wardrobe.
"No, you are almost noble. It would be an insult to make a servant of you. You will be my lady-in-waiting, and I shall share you with my sister sometimes." (8.33)
Gee, thanks, Hattie. So Ella's social status prevents her from being forced into total servitude, but… you can still make her do whatever you want? This social class thing seems a bit more confusing than it's made out to be.
"You shouldn't associate with the lower orders, like that wench from Ayortha," she said the next evening. (11.74)
Okay, Hattie is prejudiced—but she's also cruel. Even if Areida weren't of a lower social class, Hattie would still probably find a reason to order Ella not to be her friend anymore. Luckily, the class thing provides an easy excuse.
While Char and I addressed the ogres, the knights were busy setting out lunch for all of us. When we were seated, we delayed our first bite until Char began to eat. It was so natural to him I doubted he noticed. (15.78)
Char's not bad for royalty, but it's obvious that he's been doing this whole highest-rank-in-the-kingdom thing his whole life.
"Do you like serving under the prince?" "Some might not fancy answering to a youngster," he said, "but I'm a toiling knight." "What's that?" "Not so noble I can't curry my own horse, nor so greedy I have no time to serve my king." (16.9-12)
Sir Stephan is a good example of someone unburdened by silly notions of class: as a knight, he's got decent social status, but he doesn't mind serving his king. And he's not too good to take care of his own horse. Sounds like a neigh-borly fellow. Har har.
I trimmed the pen, then found I didn't know how to begin. I could call him "Char" quite easily, but writing it was another matter. "Dear Char" looked disrespectful on the page. "Dear Prince Charmont" or "Dear Highness" seemed too formal. (22.54)
Yeah, how do you address a prince you might've been flirting with, and definitely have been sliding down stair rails with? That's the kind of thing finishing school should teach.
I stayed out of my stepfamily's way as much as possible, and the longer I worked as a scullery maid, and the filthier I got, the less Hattie and Mum Olga tormented me. I think they gloried in my squalor as proof of my baseness. (24.7)
To some high-class folks in the book, dirt = poverty. So keeping Ella dirty is a way of lowering her status, at least temporarily. It's not entirely sound logic, but what do you expect from people as shallow as Dame Olga and Hattie?
"Today I am too old to marry, a hundred at least. I have spent the last eighty years and more listening to a lady detail the pedigree of every dinner guest tonight." (24.40)
In this letter to Char, Ella refers to Hattie's penchant for obsessing over the social status of, gee, everyone. Maybe that's how the rich entertain themselves in the absence of scandals to gossip about?
Father and Mum Olga continued to love at a distance. After my marriage, he became successful again, trading on the respect commanded by the royal family. (Epilogue.10)
Maybe social status is less about the money and the power than about the connections. (although they all seem to go together.) As in, you can't be all that bad if you've got connections to the royal family. Anyone who gets to know Sir Peter is in for an unpleasant surprise.
Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally. (1.25)
Well, duh. Coerced obedience isn't actually obedience; it's just coercion.
Our hallway was empty. I followed it to the spiral staircase and walked down, remembering the times Mother and I had slid down the bannister. We didn't do it when people were around. "We have to be dignified," she would whisper then, stepping down the stairs in an especially stately way. (1.63-64)
Ah, etiquette. It makes hypocrites of us all. But this passage does raise an interesting question: why do we think it's okay to behave one way when people are watching, and then a totally different way when they're not?
"We don't do big magic. Lucinda's the only one. It's too dangerous." (4.48)
Most fairies abide by the rules Mandy explains (to maintain their anonymity and thus their safety). It's too bad Lucinda is such a rebel—Ella's life would have been way easier if she weren't such a rebel. But would Ella have ended up marrying the prince?
I had to carry the stinking slippers back to our room, but Hattie had to wear them until she was able to get fresh ones from her trunk. After that, she thought more carefully about her commands. (8.39)
Even total obedience to rules can be subverted by loopholes and cleverness. Which is good for the underdog so long as the overdog isn't the one who's more clever, right?
I struggled for a quarter hour till Sewing Mistress rushed to my side. "The child has been raised by ogres or worse!" she exclaimed, snatching it away from me. "Hold it delicately. It's not a spear." (9.34)
Because clearly, not being able to thread a needle properly implies that you've been raised by man-eating monsters. Obviously.
But in bed, before I fell asleep, I'd imagine what I would do if I were free of Lucinda's curse. At dinner I'd paint lines of gravy on my face and hurl meat pasties at Manners Mistress. I'd pile Headmistress's best china on my head and walk with a wobble and a swagger till every piece was smashed. Then I'd collect the smashed pottery and the smashed meat pasties and grind them into all my perfect stitchery. (10.73)
Whoa. That's a whole lot of chaos to counteract all the order and rules Ella feels are imposed on her at finishing school. It makes you wonder…is it necessary to go to the opposite (and quite savage) extreme in order to protest unwelcome rules-mongering?
I admire the daughter, Ella, but she has gone to finishing school, where I fear she will be made less admirable. What do they teach in such places? Sewing and curtsying? It is a great distance to go to learn such paltry tricks. (12.35)
Char doesn't seem to care much about etiquette, despite being royalty. Seems like he knows to look to at people's character rather than at their ability to follow arbitrary rules and make handcrafts.
"Manners Mistress knows your father's opinion about everything. She said he would exile any subject who ate blancmange from a soup bowl." (15.62)
Now, we may have had to look up what blancmange is (we were relieved to find out that it's not communicable), but we would definitely die of shame if we ate it from a soup bowl. It's so important to understand all of these rules in order to avoid making a faux pas, wouldn't you agree?
"I agree. Love shouldn't be dictated." "Nothing should be dictated!" An idiotic remark to a future king, but I was thinking of Lucinda. (21.87-88)
At least Ella and Char seem to be on the same page about how nobody should be ordered or forced to be in love with someone else. Seems like that's an important thing for a married couple to agree upon.
"Marry me, Ella," he said again, the order a whisper now. "Say you'll marry me." Anyone else could have said yes or no. This wasn't a royal command. Char probably had no idea he'd given an order. (29.48-49)
We're not sure if it's sweet that Char has no idea that he's giving an order to Ella, or just dumb that he's so used to people doing what he says that it doesn't occur to him to not throw his power around.
Although I suspected Father wanted me to wear another mourning gown, I put on the frock Mother liked best. (3.8)
Another example of Ella's small rebellions when ordered to do something but not something specific. In this case, the choice reflects her closeness with her mother—the only part of her life that was free of coercion.
"If she'd left the hair in my curing soup, she'd be well today." (4.7)
By removing the unicorn hair from Mandy's soup, Ella's mother essentially chose not to live—or at least to sicken to the point where she might die. We have to wonder why she would make that choice given how luxurious a life she was living. Maybe it had something to do with how much of a jerk her husband was. (Or, you know, maybe she didn't know how sick she was.)
"I'll go to finishing school." I couldn't help adding, "But I shall loathe it." (5.38)
Typical Ella rebellion: she'll do things if she must, but unless ordered to enjoy them, she sure isn't going to like it.
Char backed away, holding the youngster, who squirmed to get out of his grasp. "Give him to me," I said, thinking I might be able to quiet him. (6.61-62)
See? When she's free to do what she wants, Ella makes choices that, instead of being contrary or transgressive, are kind helpful. Who wouldn't want a daughter like that?
It was a tiresome game, but I had to play it or feel a complete puppet. (11.9)
Ella chooses to subvert every order she's given at finishing school simply to feel as though she has some shred of free will in her life. Plus, it really ticks off her teachers.
"She turned you from half puppet to all puppet." (18.69)
We'd say it's even worse: at least puppets don't actually have emotions to be manipulated. This is Mandy's take on Lucinda ordering Ella to be happy to be obedient. If Ella had very few choices before, now she basically has zero.
Thinking of Father's scheme to marry me off, I said, "Sometimes people are forced into wedlock. If they must marry, perhaps it's better if they must love." (21.80)
So if you're deprived of your choice of who to marry, you should also be forced to love that person? We're not sure two wrongs ever really make a right, even in this case.
"I turned myself into the eight-year-old daughter of shopkeepers. I thought it was only fair to be a child, since I always bestowed obedience on infants. … My parents wouldn't let me disagree with them about anything. My father loved to read parables aloud, and I had to listen to every word. They commanded me to think about the morals, so even my thoughts had to be obedient." (25.110)
Lucinda gets a taste of her own medicine: total, unquestioning obedience. Even in her MIND. What is this, Equilibrium? Either way, it's pretty awful. (Also, whoa! This isn't the first time she's done this!)
His face was close to mine. He must have seen my terror. "You needn't be Ella if you don't want to be," he said softly. (29.36)
The fact that Char wants Ella to have a choice when he finds her in the cinders after the third ball is touching. Get it? He's a good guy. We wouldn't mind being ruled by this one.
Decisions were a delight after the curse. I loved having the power to say yes or no, and refusing anything was a special pleasure. (Epilogue.13)
Being able to make choices for herself after a lifetime of obedience is awesome. She finally gets to make her own choices—and, actually, marrying into the royal family means she gets even more choices that most people do.