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Literature / Ella Enchanted

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Ella Enchanted (published in 1997) by Gail Carson Levine is a Twice-Told Tale based on the Fairy Tale "Cinderella".

At birth, Ella, the protagonist, is given the "gift" of obedience by Lucinda, a ditzy fairy. Thus Ella is forced to obey every direct order given to her, no matter what. Eventually Ella learns to fight the curse by delaying her obedience, though she becomes sick when she tries. She also works around the curse by not doing exactly what is wanted when the wording of an order is not clear enough.

The basics of "Cinderella" are in Ella Enchanted: There is a Missing Mom, then later a Wicked Stepmother. There is a Disappeared Dad, as Ella's father is often away on business. (The closer the book gets to the climax, the more Cinderella plot elements are included.)

A film adaptation based (very loosely) on the book was released in 2004.

Fairest is a companion to this story. In 2018, Levine published a prequel titled Ogre Enchanted.

The book contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Ella's father, Sir Peter, is one of the neglectful variety. Dame Olga also counts.
  • And Then What?: Mandy is fond of using this technique to educate Ella about the consequences of using big magic and thinking through her actions. When Ella uses an example of how Mandy could use her magic to stop it from raining, Mandy points out that such magic could cause a long-term drought, and then undoing the spell in turn could lead to overdoing the need for water, causing uncontrollable floods.
  • Apology Gift: As an apology for the whole "being cursed" and making Ella's life a living hell, Lucinda shows she has reformed by offering a growing and shrinking box at Ella and Char's wedding. Ella is relieved that the gift is actually useful.
  • Arranged Marriage: Ella's father tries to set her up for one with an old earl. It doesn't push through once her father finds out the earl isn't as rich as he thinks.
  • The Atoner: Lucinda becomes really apologetic when she realizes she ruined Ella's life, after spending several months as a squirrel and a few more as an obedient child. She says she can't undo the curse but will help Ella with other matters, and orders the girl to summon her when needed. Sure enough, when Ella needs help going to the ball, Lucinda finds ways to use "small magic" to create the pumpkin carriage and footmen, as well as jewelry.
  • Bag of Holding: Lucinda's Apology Gift to Ella is effectively this - a magical box that can grow to store anything you need and then shrinks down to be easily carried in your pocket.
  • Banister Slide: Ella's father and new stepmother walk in on her and the prince enjoying themselves sliding down the giant banister in the castle in which the wedding has just taken place. Her new family members are not amused.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Prince Charmont (or Char for short). In one of his letters to Ella, he admits to ruining his tutor's career when he was younger just because the man made his sister cry. And years later, he still resents the tutor.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Char is very protective of his little sister, to the point that he sent his former tutor to ruin because he made her cry.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Char and his knights saving Ella from the ogres, though it is downplayed in that Ella did rescue herself in a way by keeping her captors distracted long enough to get rescued in time.
  • Big Eater: Dame Olga and her daughters. Having a Supreme Chef like Mandy makes them very happy and Ella notes that they would probably give Mandy fifty scullery maids if she asked for it just to keep her around.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dame Olga. When we first meet her, she seems nice enough, at least compared to her daughters (especially Hattie). But once she marries Ella's father and discovers that he had no money, she quickly turns into the cruel, abusive, petty stepmother we know from the Cinderella tale, making Ella a slave in her own home and tormenting the girl after her father leaves for business.
  • Black Speech: Ogrese plays with this. The language sounds pleasant, as sweet as honey and as smooth as oil, but is definitely evil: Ogres use these qualities to hunt by charming people into compliance. Hence, for those who have dealt with ogres:
    Ella: AhthOOn SSyng! (literally, "Much eating") That's farewell.
    Charmont: It sounds evil.
    Ella: It is.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Ella's "gift" of total obedience. Being that it's a from a fairy's spell, it's a literal example.
    • Lucinda hands these out like candy, in fact. Her "blessings" tend to focus on making their recipients better children, where "better" is dictated by the sort of book which declares that the proper behavior for a child is to sit quietly and behave like a miniature adult. She's always baffled when the recipient is unhappy with their Stepford Life.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Ella attends one, a finishing school, which she eventually escapes, although the horror component is more because of Hattie being there and ordering Ella around than something inherent in the school.
  • Bothering by the Book: One of the ways Ella deals with being forced to obey orders she'd prefer not to follow is to exploit any ambiguity in the wording that allows her to do what she's told without doing what the orderer wants.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Ella tries this with Char, knowing that if they do get married, she'll only put both him and the kingdom in danger because of her curse. It works... up to the point that she attends the royal balls in disguise and Hattie unmasks her on the third night.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Briefly done to Lucinda herself so she realizes the complete horror of what she's done to everyone.
  • Charm Person: Ogres are able to convince people by the power of their voice that they are friends... right up until they eat them. Ella somehow manages to copy this power from observation and use it on the ogres.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The order that Lucinda gives Ella after she renounces big magic and thus can't undo Ella's curse: "If you need me, just summon me" (paraphrased). When it rains on the masquerade ball's first night, Ella is compelled to call Lucinda, who gets her to the ball on time.
    • Ella's What You Are in the Dark moment gives her the strength and willpower to say "No!" to Char's marriage proposal and break her curse.
    • Hattie's vindictive jealousy of Ella and any girl who appears to do better than she does ends up causing her downfall: she unmasks Ella at the masquerade ball, tries to pass off Ella later on as a scullery maid, and openly orders her to Go to Your Room! and reveals her knowledge of the Geas to Char.
  • Cinderella Plot: Ella is cursed into being obedient, thus removing any choice she has to do as her stepfamily demand. However, she manages to work around the curse through Loophole Abuse. In this story, Ella's dad is alive, though he's usually away on business and is a Jerkass when he's around. She eventually leaves to find her Fairy Godmother and make her remove the curse.
  • Con Man: Ella's father tries selling land that doesn't belong to him; getting found out and having to pay off the massive debt leaves him and his daughter nearly penniless.
  • Costume Porn: Lampshaded, when Ella sees Dame Olga's letter to her daughters, which mostly describes her clothing and her social calendar. She only remembers she was writing to them by the last paragraph.
  • Cunning Linguist: Ella and her natural proficiency with languages.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Not until the very end. The curse is broken once Ella disobeys an order, which she is only able to do, with great difficulty, when the stakes are high enough. Merely saving her own life isn't sufficient, but when it comes to the future of the man she loves and the entire kingdom...
  • Damsel out of Distress: When she's captured by some hungry ogres, Ella is able to stall them from eating her long enough to be rescued by a team of knights led by Char.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Ella's mother dies at the beginning of the book, due to her falling ill and secretly taking the unicorn hairs out of Mandy's curing soup. Mandy says that by the time she realized that Ella's mother had taken out the hairs, it was too late. This book was also nominated for a Newberry medal.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: At finishing school, when Ella neglects her embroidery, the teacher punishes Ella by making her skip dinner that night. When Ella retorts that she isn't hungry, the teacher extends the punishment to include skipping breakfast the next morning, too.
    • On the journey to finishing school, Hattie abuses Ella's obedience by forcing her to give all of her food away. Given that the "punishment" is for Hattie being jealous of Ella, it makes Hattie even more of a Jerkass.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Lucinda gives absolutely no thought into the consequences and implications of her "blessings", which makes her a laughingstock when the other fairies point out the logical flaws. She doesn't think of how the "gift of obedience" can make a child vulnerable to abuse, or how making a couple be together all the time would eventually grind them down because even the most loving and stable couple needs some free time of their own away from each other, or how difficult life can be for a human turned into a squirrel.
    • Likewise, Mandy explains that the reason she or other fairies can't remove Ella's curse is that doing so would be "big magic" that has rippling consequences. She is finally able to get it into Lucinda's head that using big magic so recklessly is terrible and her blessings are more like curses by convincing her to try out those "gifts" herself. It winds up working too well, as Lucinda is heartbroken and horrified with herself for ruining so many people's lives and it drives her to renounce doing any more big magic. This means that even she can't undo Ella's curse.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ella's father is alive, but frequently away on business, and has little to no interest in what goes on around his house in his absence.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Ella spends most of the book being ordered around by people who dislike her and is relegated to being an unpaid servant in her own home. She nearly gives up on breaking her curse when Lucinda renounces big magic and thus cannot cure her. But thanks to her love for Char and desire to save the kingdom, she breaks her curse through sheer willpower when she denies his marriage proposal despite the wording of it causing the curse to try to force her into acceptance, realizes that she can explain what happened, and is able to marry him out of her own free choice.
  • Enslaved Tongue: Ella is forced to say things she doesn't want to as part of her curse of obedience.
  • Every Proper Lady Should Curtsy: Ella is depicted as being very clumsy at the beginning, stating that "curtsies often make me fall over". Her father wishes for her to become less clumsy and more ladylike and sends her to finishing school. Ella rebels against the stern teachers at the school but eventually gives in to their teachings, until she runs away. The next time her father sees her she's much more graceful and able to do a perfect curtsy.
  • Exact Words: Ella learns to do this to work around her curse.
  • Fairy Godmother: Deconstructed with Lucinda, who goes around giving "blessings" to people who don't want it, and Mandy, Ella's actual godmother, who it turns out is also a fairy but is much more inconspicuous (and thoughtful) about the help she gives.
  • Financial Abuse: While Olive is bothering Ella while she is helping Mandy in the kitchen, Ella distracts her by telling fairy tales. Then Olive thinks that Ella has some money, and demands it. Mandy tries to reasonably point out that what Ella would have would be a pittance for an upper-class girl. Olive keeps demanding, so Ella is forced to give up her emergency money while seething.
  • Forced Transformation: One of Lucinda's other 'gifts' involved turning the recipient into a squirrel; she believes squirrels live "charming, contented lives" until she spends three months as a squirrel herself.
  • Forged Letter: Ella realizes that if she were to marry Char, her curse would make his life difficult and even dangerous, so she writes a letter in her own handwriting, claiming she's run away with a rich lord, then writes an accompanying letter in her stepsister's handwriting, terrible spelling and all, to back it up. He burns her letters as a result, but later, upon learning that she loves him, thinks the letter from her is fake, instead.
  • Geas: The title character is given, at birth, the "gift" of obedience, and she has to do whatever she is told, provided the order is given in a language she understands (and she's an Instant Expert at languages).
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Ella, at Lucinda's command. Not helped by the elven mushrooms she eats later, making her shamelessly flirtatious towards the old earl her father wants her to marry. When Mandy snaps her out of it later, she's horrified.
  • The Girl Who Fits This Slipper: Justified in this case because there's fairy blood in Ella's family, so her feet are significantly smaller than most people's.
  • Gold Digger: A mutual attempt with Ella's father and Dame Olga—except that Dame Olga doesn't know that Sir Peter doesn't have any money until it's too late.
  • Gentle Giant: Giants in general, due to their invincibility.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Ella's incredibly helpful (and self-disguising) book; being magical, it can even provide detailed information about events as they occur.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Lucinda is this, albeit an Obliviously Evil one. She gives "blessings" to people that are actually terrible curses and she refuses to see the problems and implications they carry. Anyone who complains is turned into a squirrel. While Dame Olga and her daughters are more direct antagonists to Ella (as is the tradition for a Cinderella retelling), it's Lucinda's fault that Ella is given the "gift" of obedience to begin with. Much of the novel involves her or Mandy trying to reason with Lucinda and make her realize what she did was wrong. Sure enough, when Lucinda finally does realize the error of her ways, she can't undo the curse and is very apologetic about it, finally making it up to Ella by ordering her to summon her if she needs help.
  • Greed:
    • The defining character flaw of Sir Peter, Ella's father. It leads to him losing his fortune.
    • Olive's most prominent character trait is a desire for more money. She constantly demands that Ella hand over whatever little she has, and when it looks like Ella is marrying Char, she orders her to "give me all of your money!" Char is also shocked that she seriously thinks it would be acceptable for him to order all of his subjects to give him all of their money, just so he'd be richer. Given how Olive is very simple-minded and surrounded by her very greedy, vain sister and mother, it's no wonder she ended up that way.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Hattie is jealous of Ella because she's brave, smart, and pretty. It's mainly the reason why she treats Ella so miserably.
  • Grew a Spine: A concrete-metaphor version, with Ella's compulsion to obey orders that she has to overcome.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Ella's father marries Dame Olga not long after Ella's mother's death.
  • Hates Small Talk: Not exactly hate, but all the Ayorthaians that Char stayed with for a year were like this. Not through snobbiness, either; it's just they're more contemplative, more appreciative of silence, and far too polite. Much to Charmont's displeasure. It's also implied that this behavior specifically applies to the Court, where Char was, but doesn't extend to the common Ayorthaians.
  • Heroic Willpower: This is what will break Ella's curse. If she can summon the strength to disobey an order, it will break the curse. She only manages to do it by turning down Char's marriage proposal.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard:
    • The ogres that encounter Ella take their time eating her because they sense that she's cursed and would "Cook itself" if they ordered her. They decide to put off their dinner and make her walk with them. Realizing she's trapped, Ella recalls what she knows about Ogrese to convince them they've already eaten. Later, she uses Ogrese to convince them if they're Bound and Gagged by Char's men then they'll be well-fed. By the time it wears off, Ella mocks them for how their own language trapped them.
    • In the hopes of getting Lucinda to stop ruining people's lives with her "gifts", Mandy convinces Lucinda to live as a squirrel and then live as a completely obedient child. Lucinda learns quickly that her "blessings" are literally Blessed with Suck. She vows to never use "big magic" again though, which means she can't undo the spells she cast on those people. However, she does dedicate herself to helping out her victims in smaller ways, such as helping Ella get to the ball by constructing a carriage and jewelry.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: The premise of the "gift of obedience". This "gift" forces Ella to obey any direct order given to her, no matter what. Thus, she's able to break it by disobeying an order that she really would have wanted to obey, that being Char telling her to marry him.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Olive. She bullies Ella, steals the coins that Ella's father gave her for emergencies, and orders her around, but doesn't seem to have any real malice toward her the way Hattie and Dame Olga do. It is strongly indicated that she has some type of mental or social disability, and she seems to spend a lot of time getting looked down on or dismissed. The fact that she orders Ella to talk to her for hours on end implies that she is probably very lonely.
  • Internal Reveal: On the third night of the ball, Hattie removes Ella's mask while she's agreeing to be just friends with Char. This causes Ella to run and attempt to flee the town with Mandy, but she doesn't even get to leave the house before Char catches up to her.
  • Irony: Being "blessed" with total obedience led to Ella being more stubborn, headstrong, and rebellious.
  • It's All About Me: While at heart an unselfish person when it counts, Ella tends to be very focused on her own issues (understandably, to some degree). It's only later in the novel does she consider serious consequences of her own actions affecting Mandy and Char.
  • Just the Way You Are: When Char finds out that Ella was sent to finishing school, he jokingly worries in his journal, as Ella reads in her magic book, that she will no longer be a "small elephant". When he reunites with her, however, they have a laugh over all the etiquette lessons she's been forced to suffer.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from the Break the Haughty she was subjected to by Mandy convincing her to try out her own "gifts", Lucinda qualifies to a minor extent, though she changes her ways after learning just how terribly her "blessings" affect the people she chooses. There is also the fact that there are dozens of children and married couples that she has cursed who aren't going to be cured anytime soon, however, and who may lack Ella's stubbornness, like her father.
  • Kick the Dog: Done to Ella a lot by Dame Olga, Hattie, and Olive, as well as the extremely snooty governesses at the girl's academy.
  • Language Fluency Denial: When Ella meets Lucinda for the first time and Lucinda begins yelling at her, she pretends she doesn't speak Kyrrian in order to interrupt Lucinda's angry rant, as well as make it seem like she couldn't have been eavesdropping on Lucinda's earlier conversation. It works, as Lucinda calms down considerably, and the two are able to have a civil conversation in Ayorthaian.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Hattie out of spite orders Ella to no longer be friends with Areida, who is considered lower-class as an innkeeper's daughter. Ella learns from her magical book that Hattie wears a wig and decides to run away from the school to fulfill the order, find Lucinda at a wedding, and get her curse removed. She steals the wig and takes it with her. We don't hear what happened when the girls woke up to find Ella missing, along with Hattie's hair, but it must have been quite a Humiliation Conga.
    • When they reveal just how cruel they are to Ella in the climax — as Hattie tries to prevent the marriage, while Olga and Olive blatantly admit they want her to marry Char solely so they can take advantage of the relationship — Ella's stepfamily end up being excluded from the court and Char's family.
  • Literal Genie: Ella's curse only applies to orders; if it's phrased as a question rather than a directive ("could you...?"), she can choose not to follow it. Ella also sometimes follows orders with vexing precision, if it's a situation where she particularly doesn't appreciate being ordered around.
  • Loophole Abuse: As she gets older, Ella learns certain ways to work around her curse, often following the letter of an order but not the spirit. One of her best moments is when Hattie orders Ella to stop being friends with Areida. Ella, after getting some information from her magical book, decides to find Lucinda and try to persuade her to undo the curse, realizing that if she runs away from school, she'll have followed the order without ruining the friendship. Oh, and she finds out Hattie wears a wig, so she steals it while the other girl is sleeping and uses it to barter for bread for the journey.
  • Love at First Sight: Char mentions in a letter to Ella that he's loved her ever since they first met at her mother's funeral. However, the novel does avert the trope in the original fairy tale of Cinderella and the prince meeting at the royal ball and falling in love there.
  • Masquerade Ball: The climactic ball is one, allowing Ella an opportunity to attend without being recognized.
  • Missing Mom: Ella's mom dies of an illness early in the book.
  • Money Fetish: Ella's father is pretty greedy. Olive herself orders Ella to give away her money and even tries to order Ella to marry Char so that Ella can give her all the Royal Family's money towards the end.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In an effort to get her to stop using "big" magic so recklessly, Mandy tricks Lucinda into trying out the magical "gifts" she's bestowed on people. After three months of being a squirrel and another three months of being a completely obedient child, Lucinda goes through a horrible breakdown as she recounts her experiences to Mandy and realizes how many lives she's ruined.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Ella's stepfamily outs themselves as a bunch of Jerkasses to Char in the climax when Hattie unmasks Ella at the ball when before Ella would have been content to just have had those three nights, tries to pass off Ella as a scullery maid, order Ella to deny the wedding proposal, and send her to her room. Olive demands that Ella marry Char and give Olive money, and Dame Olga belatedly sees the Gold Digger opportunity and can't hide her greedy intentions. As a result, none of them are welcome in the royal court or at the wedding, especially since Ella is no longer under a Geas and is able to tell Char off-screen what her father and stepfamily did.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Olive marries an older man, a widower who just wants a wife. In return, he caters to Olive's desires and gives her the companionship she craves.
  • Obliviously Evil: Downplayed with Lucinda — she isn't a mean person, but her Cloudcuckoolander tendencies render her completely oblivious to the idea that her blessings might have long-term difficulties and is too stubborn to listen to others' advice. After turning herself into a squirrel and an obedient child for a while, she grows out of it. Fairest reveals that she did even worse in Ayortha by giving Queen Ivi a magic mirror, a mirror that nearly leads to civil war.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Ella is never shown reclaiming her mother's necklace from Hattie. She does recover it, but it's only a quick throwaway line in the epilogue.
  • Omniglot: Throughout the story, Ella is shown to have a talent for learning new languages. She's fluent in Kyrrhian, and knows more than enough Ayorthaian, Gnomish, Elvish, and Ogrese to get by.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: They're only about as intelligent as normal horses. Char even gives Ella a young one as a pet. He actually acts like a normal horse, even taking an apple from her hands.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The elves in this universe strongly resemble plants and place extreme value on beautifully crafted objects. They don't actually place much of a trade value on things, either; while Ella's father takes quite a while trying to find a way to trade for some of the Elvish masterworks because of their trade value, they give one freely to Ella because she's entranced by the simple beauty of the piece rather than its monetary value.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: An Always Chaotic Evil race of Genius Bruiser cannibals and sorcerers with hypnotic voices and the ability to deduce someone's weaknesses simply by looking at them. Ella manages to turn their gifts against them by learning Ogrese on the spot and stalling them until Char and his army rescue her.
  • Parental Neglect: Sir Peter, Ella's greedy and selfish father. He tries to use his clever ways to gain riches. He gains much of his wealth through trickery and deceit and loses it the same way. Sir Peter takes pride in Ella for being a brave, sassy child. Once he gets to know his daughter, he notes their resemblance, laughs at her attitude, and seems to grow somewhat fond of her. Yet, he deals little with his daughter and is more concerned for his business than her well-being. They have a distant relationship, as Ella acknowledges his corrupt, greedy nature and finds it unpleasant - especially during his attempts to force her to marry. He marries Dame Olga because of her wealth and cares little when Dame Olga forces Ella to work as a servant.
  • Picky People Eater: When Ella is captured by a family of ogres, they argue over how to divide up her parts. (The neck is the best part, apparently.)
  • Plucky Girl: Ella.
  • Prince Charming: Levine plays on this: the prince's name is Charmont, which is a letter away from 'Charmant,' the French word for 'Charming.' Playing it further, he actually hates his full name and only likes to be called "Char". Personality-wise, he's a down-to-earth and humble Nice Guy, which is what wins Ella over.
  • Rich Bitch: Dame Olga and her daughters Hattie and Olive. Dame Olga marries Sir Peter for the financial security (and married her previous husband for the same reason) while Hattie and Olive are a pair of spoiled brats and bullies who want to marry rich men and live in material excess for life.
  • Royal Brat: Hattie and Olive. They aren't quite royalty, but they have a bit of an aristocratic background and are extremely spoiled jerks who bully and push the heroine around.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Prince Charmont readily goes out to hunt ogres with his knights to protect the citizens of his kingdom.
  • Scullery Maid: As expected for a Cinderella retelling, Ella's stepfamily make her work as a scullery drudge in her own household. The cook is actually a friend of hers, who does what she can to make the situation no worse than it has to be.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: Ella asks Mandy why she (or Lucinda for that matter) can't just magically remove her obedience curse. Mandy explains that the rules magic operates by can have all kinds of rippling effects that could lead to adverse consequences, especially "big magic".
  • Soup Is Medicine: Mandy knows a recipe for a curing soup, made with carrots, leeks, celery, and hair from a unicorn's tail. The hairs don't have to be consumed, but they do need to be left in the soup, or else it has no curing power.
  • Step Servant: basically a retelling of "Cinderella" in which Ella's stepmother becomes angry at her for living in her house like a lady when she is actually poor, so when Ella's father Sir Peter is away on business, she turns Ella into a servant.
  • Supreme Chef: Mandy is one, and all of her meals are delicious thanks to being enhanced by her magic. Her Tonic is the only thing that Ella dislikes, and that's because of the slippery texture rather than the taste. It's the only food that Hattie doesn't steal from Ella because of that.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Mandy challenges Lucinda into trying out the "gifts" she bestows upon people for a few months, first as a squirrel and then as a completely obedient child. Lucinda quickly finds that the life of a tiny little animal is incredibly difficult, as she's constantly cold and hungry, rarely has a safe place to sleep in, and there are predators of all kinds trying to eat her. Similarly, when Lucinda takes on the form of a completely obedient child, she finds that being compelled to obey every single order given to her is not a fun life.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: Ella is "Elle" in Ayorthian.
  • Tongue-Tied: Ella's mother orders her not to tell anyone about her curse after a former childhood friend found out and used it as a power play.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Ella's mother secretly took the unicorn hairs out of the healing soup that Mandy gave her.
    • Hattie attempting to pass off Ella as a scullery maid to Char after unmasking her at the ball. Both she and Char know what Ella looks like, and Char is not only disgusted upon hearing that Ella's been abused by her stepfamily and treated like a slave but also witnesses Hattie's verbal abuse firsthand.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: When Char falls for "Lela," Ella's masked alter ego at the balls. Only a semi-example, since he never takes their interactions beyond friendship and worries about "raising her expectations" because he's resolved never to marry - presumably because he's still not over Ella.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ella asks Mandy about how her parents met and married each other since they seemed like such complete opposites.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When Char confesses to Ella in a letter that he loves her, Ella fantasizes for several hours about getting her freedom from her abusive step-family and being with the man she loves. When the buzz wears off, however, she thinks through the consequences of still being cursed, including what it might do to the kingdom, and writes a letter pretending that she has married another man. That's right, Ella would rather sacrifice a chance at freedom than endanger Char and the kingdom. This is also how she breaks the curse - when Char accidentally orders her to accept his proposal (with Olive and Dame Olga egging it on because they want the perks that come with being related to the royal family through marriage), she struggles for several minutes before managing to reject it.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Kicks in with Dame Olga almost immediately after the marriage. Hattie notices Ella's "blessing" of magically-compelled obedience and informs Olga, who quickly takes advantage of it and treats Ella as a slave.