Forgiveness in Despereaux

One of the hardest things, I have found, is to forgive the people who have wronged us in some way. There is a scene where Despereaux comes face to face to his father after his father has sentenced him to death. Despereaux has run from the kitchen and is covered in flour making him look like a ghost. He interrupts the Mouse Counsel and his father is there. Despereaux has only been in the dungeon for perhaps a few days but his father has aged many years in that time. His father realized the sin he committed when he sent Despereaux to the rats. He asks Despereaux for his forgiveness. In that moment, Despereaux had to make a big choice that would affect the rest of his life. He could choose to forgive or not forgive his father. He decided to forgive him and by doing that Despereaux was able to heal his heart.

Another character who had a choice where he could have decided to forgive or not forgive, and that character is Roscuro. Roscure is very unusual for a rat because he sought the light and he did not delight in the suffering of others. He wanted something different from the other rats. He went to the human banquet one night because he was attracted to it. He was watching from a chandelier when Princess Pea saw him. She told everyone that she could see him. Roscure lost his balance and fell into the queen’s soup. The queen dies of fear. Roscure is so humiliated by everything that happened he vowed revenge against Princess Pea. He got his revenge by using Mig to force Princess Pea in the dungeon. Despereaux goes into the dungeon after them to rescue the Princess. In the end, what saves the Princess is her ability to feel empathy for others. She feels empathy for Roscuro and asks him to come with them. That they would share soup with him. Roscuro accepts. His heart is healed by this but it is healed crooked. Roscuro is struck in between being a rat and something else.

What I liked about this story is the fact that it was solved by forgiveness. Despereaux is able to become the knight he wanted to be by recognizing the pain his father caused him and letting it go. The Princess accepted the rat and gave him what he needed to heal. It was not solved by Despereaux fighting Roscuro but Roscure being offered a second chance. I think that this is a lesson children (and adult) need to learn is the importance of forgiveness. That it not only helps the person who is forgiven but the person who forgives.

The Tale of Despereaux

Author: Kate DiCamillo
Reading Range: 4.7 ( AR Finder)
Interest Range: 4-8 (AR Finder)
Plot: The story is divided into four parts. The first three parts focus on a particular character. The first part focuses on Despereaux. It tells of his birth and of his life. He is an unusual mouse with big ears who does not act like a mouse. He can read and is interested in stories with knights. He falls in love with the Princess Pea. The Mouse Council condemns him to the dungeon with the rats because he talked to the princess and he does not act like a mouse. The second part focuses on the character of Chiaroscuro (Roscuro) who is a rat that lives in the dungeon of the castle. He does not act like a rat because he is attracted to light and he is actually a good “person.” One night, he goes into the castle main hall and accidentally scares the queen to death.He blames Princess Pea for what happened and he plots revenge against her. The third part focuses on Mig Sow. Her father sold her because her mother died. The man he sold her to abuses her. Eventually, she is taken to the castle where Princess Pea lives. The fourth part focuses on Roscuro’s revenge against Princess Pea. He uses Mig to take his revenge because he can manipulate her. Despereaux is the only one that can save her.
Review: All three characters want things that they are told they cannot have. Despereaux falls in love with the princess and wants to be apart of her world. Roscuro wants to live in the light. Mig wants to be a princess because she thinks they are “stars on the earth.” Each is denied what they want. Despereaux is told by the Mouse Council what he wants is wrong and that he breaks Mouse Law by wanting it. Roscuro is not welcome in the castle’s main hall. Mig is told by everyone she is pretty much worthless and will never be a princess. Roscuro is able to manipulate Mig because of that desire. In the story, everyone is saved not by the use of violence but because they are able to forgive each other. Despereaux is able to forgive his father for condemning him to death and become the knight he wants to be. Roscuro is able to forgive the princess for rejecting him. Although, his heart never completely heals. Mig is reunited with her father after he is imprisoned for crimes he committed. What I liked about this story is that there is still hope even in the darkest of times. Each character experiences their darkness times and they are able to overcome it in someway. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read fantasy and stories with knights and princesses. Even through the knight is a mouse.
Additional Info:
This book won a Newbery Medal.
Main Characters:

Despereaux Tilling-Despereaux is the last mouse born to his mother. He is an odd mouse even from birth. He was born with his eyes opened and the biggest ears of any mouse. He chooses to read books instead of eat them. He becomes fascinated with a story that features a knight and a princess. He falls in courtly love with Princess Pea.

Princess Pea-Princess Pea is the princess of Dor. She is the only child of the king and queen. She loves Despereaux in return. She is kind-hearted but not used to people telling her no.

Chiaroscuro (known as “Roscuro”)Roscuro was born in the castle dungeon. He is fascinated by light and goodness unlike the other rats. He seeks revenge against Princess Pea for his rejection in the human world.

Miggery “Mig” Sow-Mig’s mother died when she was young leaving her to her father. Her father sold her to a man who abused her. She is still well-meaning but simple. She wants to be a princess.

Botticelli Remorso-Botticelli is an old rat who lives in the dungeon. He believes the meaning of life is to cause the suffering of others. He delights in the pain and suffering of others.

Gregory the Jailor-Gregory saves Despereaux from the rats for the price of a story.

Furlough Tilling-Furlough is one of Desperaeux’s many brothers. He is the one who betrays Despereaux to the Mouse Council. He tried to teach Despereaux how to be a mouse but it did not take.

Lester Tilling-Lester is Despereaux’s father. He condemns Despereaux with the other members of the Mouse Council to the dungeon.

Antoinette Tilling-Antoinette is Despereaux’s mother. She is very picky about her appearance. She does not understand Despereaux.

Theme:  Darkness and light, Desire to escape, Good versus evil, Individual versus society

Bibliographic Info:

DiCamillo, K. (2004)  The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread.  Waterville, ME: Thorndike Press

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