Study Guide

Ella Enchanted Wealth

By Gail Carson Levine

Wealth

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.)