Being a princess is every girl’s dream as she grows up. The fairy-tales are full of Princesses, who are damsels in distress, and get rescued by a dashing knight in the shining armour, and they live happily ever after. The story of ‘A Little Princess’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett begins like any other fairy tale.
It’s about a little girl called Sara,the daughter of a rich British Army officer, Captain Crew, who leaves her in a boarding school while he goes to serve in India.
Since her mother died during childbirth, her dad had spared no expense in her upbringing, so much so, that everyone in her school calls her ‘princess Sara’. But Sara seems untouched by all the extravagance and revelry. In a tragic turn of events, suddenly her father dies of brain fever in India, and she is left penniless.
This news is broken to her on her grand 11th birthday celebration, and suddenly in a span of 10 minutes she turned from riches to rags, from a plush and luxurious room to a mice infested attic, from a model student to a maid, from a princess to a pauper.
The characters in the story are very real as well, they are very much like people we come across in our day-to-day life. Miss Minchin, headmistress of Sara’s new boarding school, who pampers Sara, while she is rich, and turns her into a scullery maid later to pay off the debts, Becky her sole companion in the attic and Mr. Carrisford, her knight in shining armour.
For the next three years Sara fights starvation and severe cold weather. But even though Sara’s magical world has crumbled around her, she doesn’t allow the magic to leave/disappear from her life. In a particularly heart-wrenching narrative, you come to know how Sara creates her own world with magic in it, by pretending she was still a princess, trapped in a prison. In the daily trials of her life she encounters obstacles, and strives to be a perfect princess, realising that it was “more difficult to be a princess inside, than being one outside”.
The story ends with Sara being discovered by her father’s old friend Mr Carrisford, who had a fortune left by her father for Sara, and Sara goes back to being Princess Sara- on the outside as well.
Princesses are always supposed to be delicate, glamourous and spoilt, but reading this book makes you realise how important it is to be strong inside, and when you’re strong inside, the outward appearance is of no consequence. And how important it is to go through pain and suffering in life, as I am sure, Sara would appreciate the value of being a princess much more, having gone through a hard phase in life.
One of the best qualities of Sara was that she never complained, but accepted every situation as it came to her. She had strong faith in a higher power and that what she was going through would change one day, and she would go back to being a real Princess Sara.
And love…….the element that kept her going on cold winters, on a hungry stomach, with every cell of her tired and aching. She never ceased to be a princess.