What does the word ‘Princess’ bring to your mind? Lovely dresses, luxurious lifestyle, high profile friends, and dashing princes? Well, that’s true. Traditionally, we do associate a princess with all sorts of riches. But, riches are materialistic things. They don’t make up the true character of a princess, but only, frame the outer personality of a princess. In fact, there is far more to a ‘Princess’ than just rubies and diamonds and tiaras. Indeed, a princess is defined truly by how she is from within than her outward appearance. Qualities, the building blocks of a person’s character, are the core elements, which veritably tell us whether a princess is a true princess or not. A Little Princess is a lovely and moving tale which enlightens readers about what actually a true princess is made of.
Title: A Little Princess
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publishing Date: July 1st, 2001. First published in 1905.
Genres: Children’s Literature
From Goodreads: Written by British-born author Frances Hodgson Burnett and first published in 1905, A Little Princess tells the story of young Sara Crewe, privileged daughter of a wealthy diamond merchant. All the other girls at Miss Minchin’s school treat Sara as if she truly were a princess. But when Captain Crewe’s fortune is sadly lost, Sara’s luck changes. Suddenly she is treated no better than a scullery maid. Her own fierce determination to maintain her dignity and remain a princess inside has intrigued and delighted readers for almost a hundred years, even inspiring a recent popular feature film.
In my life, seldom have I read a book which has touched my heart as much as A Little Princess. Set in 19th century England, the story of little Sara Crewe not just enthralls readers with its beautifully written plot, but also, makes us fall in love with our story’s heroine. A Little Princess is more than a children’s classic story. It is a story which leaves readers with valuable morals. It is a story which stirs our emotions deeply- emotions of love, compassion, mercy, kindness, perseverance, patience, goodness- and moistens our eyes with happiness.
As the story begins, we are introduced to Sara, a little girl who is enrolled to Miss Minchin’s boarding school for girls in London. Sara’s father, Captain Richard Crewe is a wealthy widower, who dotes upon his daughter and orders every luxury for Sara at her boarding school. Sara’s wealth attracts a lot of fake attention and admiration from Miss Minchin, the villain of our story, who though dislikes Sara, behaves all sweet and coy. As a result of her wealth, Sara is called a ‘Princess’ at her boarding school. But, despite of being very rich, Sara does not behave like a spoilt brat. Neither does she have any pride, nor does she carry herself with ego. Sara knows that a true princess always treats everyone with care, respect, and kindness in all situations. In Sara, we see a protagonist who despite of her wealth is down-to-earth and humble. Readers would be instantly drawn to such a lovely little girl who makes us feel proud of her.
Sara’s world is turned upside down after her father’s death. It is not just the riches which go away, but also, the fake attention, admiration, and respect from Miss Minchin. As a sizable amount of Sara’s school fees and luxuries are still unpaid, Sara is stripped of her luxuries and is thrown into a dark attic. To make matters worse, Sara is made to work as an errand girl by Miss Minchin, who wants her to keep earning so as to pay her bills. From this point, we see Sara being ill treated by Miss Minchin for several years. She has very few to call friends and has a hard time at the boarding school. These are the years when her true character is tested. These are the pages in the book which will leave readers inspired as they will get to see Sara’s immense strength of character. These pages tell the story of a girl, who is left with nothing, who is ill-treated, who doesn’t know what her future holds, and yet, she CHOOSES to be virtuous and treats everyone with kindness, compassion, and politeness, because that’s what a real princess would do.
The several years of Sara’s hardships at her boarding school is poignant to read. Every detail in those pages touched my heart. The relationship between Sara and Ermengarde is sweet to read and so are their imaginary make-believe stories in their attic. An incident from Sara’s life which touched my heart the most is the day when Sara uses the coin she found on the street to buy some buns for herself, but, when she sees a little beggar girl who is hungrier than herself, she gives away most of the buns to the little beggar girl. Sara’s act of kindness taught me that we all have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than us. Gladly, with the arrival of Mr. Carrisford and his Indian servant Ram Dass we see happiness gradually lightening up Sara’s life and soon, her days of plight are over as she regains her wealth.
Reading A Little Princess has been a delightful and stirring experience. The book presents readers with a cast of characters we all can relate to in our everyday life. I don’t view the story of Sara as a riches-rags-riches story. It is not a story of how a little rich girl got very poor and then by the stroke of luck got very rich again. No! I view it as a story of great perseverance and strength of character. It is the story of a little girl who possesses qualities, which stand tall in the test of times and crown her a true princess. If you have ever wished to meet a magnanimous princess, I say, look no further than Princess Sara Crewe- a true princess.