Since moving, I've befriended a wonderful woman who is a lot of fun to talk with. The other day conversation turned to A Little Princess and we each had nearly the same reaction to the story. This made me want very much to share these thoughts with my dear readers, even though I expect it is largely unnecessary.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is likely the most quoted book on lolita blogs and forums. And who doesn't admire Sara Crewe, the very most princessly princess of all time? This isn't one of the novels I mark among those most influential in my life, and I think that it's a poor estimation on my part that this is so.
When I was very young I was introduced to the story through the Shirley Temple film and the Illustrated Classic version of the book. Though now these are my least favorite versions, they did prompt me to read the full novel years later and the 1995 version remains one of my favorite films even now. I'm not sure how much of this story informed my personality, but it certainly inspires me to be a better person each time I revisit it.
For those who have overlooked this novel, it tells the story of Sara, a wealthy girl who is sent to a boarding school for young ladies. There, her kindness and spirit win her both a large number of friends and the disdain of the school's director, Miss Minchin. However, due to her greed, Minchin is still kind to Sara up until the girl's birthday when news of her father's death and the disappearance of her family's fortune arrives. Sara is then forced to work as help, loosing her possessions in the process. This new life is very hard for Sara, but she remains kind and still believes she is a princess on the inside. She becomes close friends with the servant girl, Becky, and an Indian gentleman living in the attic across from her own. The end of the story varies depending on which version of the story you favor, but the moral is that remaining a good person will pay off in some way at the end and that, yes, all girls are princesses if they choose to be.
I think the reason the story is so very inspiring to many is the idea that you can be a princess no matter what. You can be the better person in any situation, and that no matter how bad life gets this will be rewarded in the end. It inspires girls to be kind and to continue dreaming even when it's difficult to do so. For girls in bad situations if offers hope of something better if they just stay true to themselves.
If you are unfamiliar with this story, I urge you to read or watch it. The form you pick to do so does not matter, as the underlying messages are the important parts.