Study Guide

Ella Enchanted Choices

By Gail Carson Levine


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.