Many books that were published years ago have recently been made into movies. One of the well-known books that have been made into a film is Ella Enchanted (1997) by Gail Carson Levine. This book won several awards, including the Newbery Honor book in 1998. Ella enchanted, the Disney movie version was released in 2004. Anne Hathaway played the role of Ella and it was directed by Tommy O’Haver.
The story talks about a girl named Ella who is cursed at birth by a fairy named Lucinda. Lucinda cursed Ella with total obedience. Throughout the movie, Ella was looking for Lucinda to undo the curse so she could live her life like all other girl and win the love of her life, Prince Charmont.
The book addresses many feminist issues, such as fighting to be free, jealousy, friendship and love. In many traditional fairy tales, Females placed in secondary roles because they lived in societies that were ruled by a king. Females in those societies were expected to act as princesses. The society expects them to be kind, loving, beautiful and obedient. Females were asked to go to school to learn proper manners and wait to marry a wealthy prince. Many authors tried to break those traditions by giving females the main role in their story. Ella Enchanted was one of those stories. Some of the reviewers agreed.
Ella Enchanted is a story everyone should read. Critics address the feminist part in their reviews; for example, in the bulletin of the center for children’s books, Elizabeth Bush said that Levine offered the reader feminist sensibilities and the assurance that Ella and Prince Charmont would live happily ever after.
Even though the book and the movie share the same theme and story; the book is superior to the movie in characters and setting. The main characters in the story Ella Enchanted are Ella, Lucinda, her stepsisters, and prince Charmont. Ella is a beautiful and honest girl who was cursed by the gift of obedience. Lucinda is the witch who cursed Ella. Ella describes Lucinda as a fool of a fairy:
“That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift” (3). When Lucinda cursed Ella, she thought that giving Ella full obedience would be a gift, not thinking that this may affect her life and give people around her the chance to take advantage of her. Olive and Hattie are Ella’s stepsisters. Hattie is the one who was able to discover Ella’s curse. In the book, Hattie enjoyed commanding Ella.
Ella gave Hattie her precious necklace afterwards, Hattie commanded Ella to not be friends with Areida. Throughout the book and the movie, Hattie and Olive are always jealous of Ella’s beauty and of how well-mannered she is and yet they wanted to be friends with Ella.
The reader will think how Hattie and Olive could be Ella’s friends after taking advantage of her. In the book, Hattie said "Ella, you should give it to me. It would be a token of our friendship." (37). Prince Charmont comes in both works as a young leader who was destined to inherit the throne of the kingdom. When Prince Charmont met Ella, he fell in love with her humor and her personality not knowing what she had as a curse. The book reviewer, Nancy Thackaberry from VOYA, stated that “the characters’ personalities and motives are comically crystal clear, but never boring”.
She is saying that there is no real changing in the characters in the book, but it’s not boring because the romance and the fantasy that is presented in the book will keep the reader wanting to read more. When it comes to comparing both works, the book and the film, we find that there are many differences between how the characters were presented. Both works address feminism through the main character, Ella and her stepsisters. Although both works discusses the same plot, Ella shows in the book more as a responsible, strong character in which she tries very hard to overcome the curse she has and tries not be “so obedient”.
Whereas in the movie, Ella is more like the foolish girl who has no control and she would do whatever she is told to do without trying to stand up for herself and try not doing it. Comparing the book and the film of Ella Enchanted, it is noticeable that the book and the movie didn’t give women importance and feminism is downplayed.
The stepmother and stepsisters in both works were presented as clumsy and mean women who used to bully Ella. Also, as for Lucinda the witch, who made a foolish decision by cursing Ella with full obedience, thinking that she actually gave her a gift and she did not think of the consequences that this curse would take Ella. Ella Enchanted makes the whole story about female empowerment.
The book focuses of how Ella is controlled by her curse and not defined by it. She tries to think her way out every situation when someone asks her to do something; this demonstrates Ella’s independence that grew with her as she grew without her mother. The interesting point in the movie is that when Ella meets Prince Charmont, he didn’t love her because of her obedience but by her independence and humor and Ella didn’t love Prince Charmont like other girls did because of his position and charm. Ella was able to change him into a better person and she opened his eyes on how bad was his uncle.
As in many fairy tales, the setting is magical and it is made up by the author. Both The movie and the book were set in Frell Village during the medieval times. Settings in fairy tales are not always presented clearly. Most of them are set in castles or forests. As Lukens mentioned: “A simple symbolic setting is the forest, which can be both a literal setting as well as a symbol for the unknown” (Lukens 180).
Most of the story took place in Elves forest, Giants forest and Fens where the ogres lives. Levine divided the forest into multiple lands according to where everyone lives to make it easier for young reader to know the route Ella took and to address the importance of each one having their private land without any boundaries. In the book, Levine stated that the place where Ella lived is in a huge manor with lots of windows and a fire place in each room. "Forty-two windows and a fireplace in every room. The windows must have cost a trunkful of gold KJs." (19). In this statement, the reader will imagine the kind of a manor that has forty two windows in their rooms.
The idea of Hattie counting the windows of Ella’s manor shows how greedy she is. Hattie and Olive envy Ella and what she has and they want to be in her place. On the other hand, the changes that were made to the book to make it into a movie are to clear the image concerning the setting. The house that Ella lives in is a simple house that doesn’t show any of her father’s wealth that has mentioned in the book. The cuts that occurred regarding the setting in the movie is because there is more information about the setting in the book that takes a lot of time to show it in the movie.
As a conclusion, the reader who read the book and watch the movie will find big differences between both works. The movie lacks a lot of details that the book has. That's because the time limit that the movie has make it kind of impossible to put all the elements consist of. These elements make the book and most likely any other book that is written and made into a motion picture much more better and more enjoyable. Overall, a good reader will enjoy reading Ella Enchanted the book more than just watching the book; a good reader will be able to connect more with the characters emotionally.
The message of this story is that young readers should be themselves no matter what others ask them to do. They should have complete power to act on their own. For the female reader it gives hope of no matter how hard the childhood was, they still can live happily ever after, even if they have never been happy before. The story will teach young female readers that they should never let another jealous female, even if they are close family, ruin their happiness and to fight to gain their destiny.
Works Cited Bush, Elizabeth. Rev. of Ella Enchanted.by Gail Carson Levine. The Bulletin of the Canters for Children’s Books. May 1997: 50-9. Rpt in children literature Review. Web. Levine, Gail Carson. Ella Enchanted. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1997. Print. Thackaberry, Nancy. Rev. of Ella Enchanted.by Gail Carson Levine. VOYA. August 1997: 20-3. Rpt in children literature Review. Web.