The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

by

Kate DiCamillo

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Tale of Despereaux can help.

The Princess Pea Character Analysis

The princess of Dor is King Phillip and Queen Rosemary’s daughter. She’s a beautiful girl who seems to radiate light, and this effect is amplified by the fact that she often wears glittery or sequined dresses. The Pea is the only one to notice Roscuro hanging from the chandelier at a banquet, and she shouts that there’s a rat in her mother’s soup—which ultimately leads to the queen dying of surprise. The look that the Pea gives Roscuro as he leaves the banquet—one that says clearly that he belongs in the dungeon—is what causes Roscuro’s heart to break and to heal crookedly. The Pea, however, is unaware of the effect she had on him until much later. In the months after her mother’s death, the Pea befriends Despereaux—and days after they meet for the first time, Roscuro manipulates Mig into kidnapping the Pea. While the Pea is frightened and angry at Roscuro, the narrator also insists that Pea is extremely empathetic. So, she feels great sympathy for Mig, who wants to be a princess so badly that she’s susceptible to Roscuro’s manipulation. Her empathy is why, once Roscuro reveals what his true plan is, the Pea asks an angry, confused Mig what she really wants. The girls connect over the fact that they’ve both lost their mothers, and they refuse to work against each other after this. Once Despereaux arrives to rescue the Pea, the Pea agrees to forgive Roscuro for kidnapping her and for his role in the queen’s death. She invites him upstairs to eat soup and after this, she gives him permission to come upstairs to the castle’s light, bright main floors whenever he wants.

The Princess Pea Quotes in The Tale of Despereaux

The The Tale of Despereaux quotes below are all either spoken by The Princess Pea or refer to The Princess Pea. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
).
Chapter 3 Quotes

Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.

Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Reader, you may ask this question; in fact, you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big-eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea?

The answer is … yes. Of course, it’s ridiculous.

Love is ridiculous.

But love is also wonderful. And powerful. And Despereaux’s love for the Princess Pea would prove, in time, to be all of these things: Powerful, wonderful, and ridiculous.

Related Characters: Despereaux Tilling, The Princess Pea
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Do not speak to her!” thundered the king.

Despereaux dropped his handkerchief. He backed away from the king.

“Rodents do not speak to princesses. We will not have this becoming a topsy-turvy, wrong-headed world. There are rules. Scat. Get lost, before my common sense returns and I have you killed.”

Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“Did you break them?”

“Yes, sir,” said Despereaux. He raised his voice. “But…I broke the rules for good reasons. Because of music. And because of love.”

“Love!” said the Head Mouse.

“Oh cripes,” said Furlough. “Here we go.”

“I love her, sir,” said Despereaux.

“We are not here to talk about love. This trial is not about love. This trial is about you being a mouse,” shouted the Most Very Honored Head Mouse from high atop the bricks, “and not acting like one!!!”

Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

How, he wondered, had things gone so terribly wrong? Wasn’t it a good thing to love? In the story in the book, love was a very good thing. Because the knight loved the fair maiden, he was able to rescue her. They lived happily ever after. It said so. In the book. They were the last words on the page. Happily ever after. Despereaux was certain that he had read exactly those words time and time again.

Lying on the floor with the drum beating and the mice shouting and the threadmaster calling out, “Make way, make way,” Despereaux had a sudden, chilling thought: Had some other mouse eaten the words that spoke the truth? Did the knight and the fair maiden really not live happily ever after?

Related Symbols: The Knight in Shining Armor
Page Number: 57-58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

And the little princess! How lovely she was! How much like light itself. Her gown was covered in sequins that winked and glimmered at the rat. And when she laughed, and she laughed often, everything around her seemed to glow brighter.

“Oh, really,” said Roscuro, “this is too extraordinary. This is too wonderful. I must tell Botticelli that he was wrong. Suffering is not the answer. Light is the answer.”

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

Rat.

In the middle of all that beauty, it immediately became clear that it was an extremely distasteful syllable.

Rat.

A curse, an insult, a word totally without light. And not until he heard it from the mouth of the princess did Roscuro realize that he did not like being a rat, that he did not want to be a rat.

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“Go back to the dungeon” was what the look she gave him said. “Go back into the darkness where you belong.”

This look, reader, broke Roscuro’s heart.

Did you think that rats do not have hearts? Wrong. All living things have a heart. And the heart of any living thing can be broken.

If the rat had not looked over his shoulder, perhaps his heart would not have broken. And it is possible, then, that I would not have a story to tell.

But, reader, he did look.

Related Symbols: Light and Dark, Soup
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

Looking at the royal family had awakened some deep and slumbering need in her; it was if a small candle had been lit in her interior, sparked to life by the brilliance of the king and the queen and the princess.

For the first time in her life, reader, Mig hoped.

And hope is like love…a ridiculous, wonderful, powerful thing.

Mig tried to name this strange emotion; she put a hand up to touch one of her aching ears, and she realized that the feeling she was experiencing, the hope blooming inside of her, felt exactly the opposite of a good clout.

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

And while the mouse slept, Roscuro put his terrible plan into effect. Would you like to hear, reader, how it all unfolded? The story is not a pretty one. There is violence in it. And cruelty. But stories that are not pretty have a certain value too, I suppose. Everything, as you well know (having lived in this world long enough to have figured out a thing or two for yourself), cannot always be sweetness and light.

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

And what of the light in the princess’s heart? Reader, I am pleased to tell you that the Pea was a kind person, and perhaps more important, she was empathetic. Do you know what it means to be empathetic?

I will tell you: it means that when you are being forcibly taken to a dungeon, when you have a large knife pointed at your back, when you are trying to be brave, you are able, still, to think for a moment of the person who is holding that knife.

You are able to think: “Oh, poor Mig, she wants to be a princess so badly and she thinks that this is the way. Poor, poor Mig. What must it be like to want something that desperately?”

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

“It will be all right,” said Louise.

Cook brought the hem of her apron up to wipe at her tears. “It won’t,” she said. “It won’t be all right ever again. They’ve taken our little darling away. There ain’t nothing left to live for without the princess.”

Despereaux was amazed to have exactly what was in his heart spoken aloud by such a ferocious, mouse-hating woman as Cook.

Related Characters: Louise (speaker), Cook (speaker), Despereaux Tilling, The Princess Pea, Chiaroscuro “Roscuro”
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

He put a nervous paw up to his neck and pulled at the red thread, and suddenly his dream came flooding back to him…the dark and the light and the knight swinging his sword and the terrible moment when he had realized that the suit of armor was empty.

And then, reader, as he stood before the king, a wonderful, amazing thought occurred to the mouse. What if the suit of armor had been empty for a reason? What if it had been empty because it was waiting?

For him.

Page Number: 214-15
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 45 Quotes

Cook smiled. “See?” she said. “There ain’t a body, be it mouse or man, that ain’t made better by a little soup.”

Related Symbols: Soup
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 49 Quotes

“What do you want, Miggery Sow?!” the princess shouted.

“Don’t ask her that,” said Roscuro. “Shut up. Shut up.”

But it was too late. The words had been said; the question, at last, had been asked. The world stopped spinning and all of creation held its breath, waiting to hear what it was that Miggery Sow wanted.

“I want…,” said Mig.

“Yes?” shouted the Pea.

“I want my ma!” cried Mig, into the silent, waiting world. “I want my ma!”

“Oh,” said the princess. She held out her hand to Mig.

Mig took hold of it.

“I want my mother, too,” said the princess softly. And she squeezed Mig’s hand.

Related Characters: Chiaroscuro “Roscuro” (speaker), Miggery Sow “Mig” (speaker), The Princess Pea (speaker), Queen Rosemary
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 51 Quotes

Despereaux held his trembling needle against Roscuro’s heart. The mouse knew that as a knight, it was his duty to protect the princess. But would killing the rat make the darkness go away?

Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

And the smell of soup crashed through his soul like a great wave, bringing with it the memory of light, the chandelier, the music, the laughter, everything, all the things that were not, would never, could never be available to him as a rat.

Soup,” moaned Roscuro.

And he began to cry.

[…]

“Kill me,” said Roscuro. He fell down before Despereaux. “It will never work. All I wanted was some light. This is why I brought the princess here, really, just for some beauty…some light of my own.”

Related Symbols: Light and Dark, Soup
Page Number: 262-63
Explanation and Analysis:

I think, reader, that she was feeling the same thing that Despereaux had felt when he was faced with his father begging him for forgiveness. That is, Pea was aware suddenly of how fragile her heart was, how much darkness was inside it, fighting, always, with the light. She did not like the rat. She would never like the rat, but she knew what she must do to save her own heart.

And so, here are the words that the princess spoke to her enemy.

She said, “Roscuro, would you like some soup?”

Related Symbols: Light and Dark
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Tale of Despereaux LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Tale of Despereaux PDF

The Princess Pea Character Timeline in The Tale of Despereaux

The timeline below shows where the character The Princess Pea appears in The Tale of Despereaux. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
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...sound” is: music, and specifically, King Phillip playing his guitar and singing to the Princess Pea every night. Despereaux hides in a hole in the Pea’s bedroom, listening to the music.... (full context)
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...human. The music, however, causes Despereaux to ignore his mouse instincts, and soon the Princess Pea notices Despereaux and points him out to King Phillip. Phillip, however, is very nearsighted, so... (full context)
Chapter 5
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The Princess Pea looks down at Despereaux and smiles as King Phillip plays a song about purple night... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...through the castle walls and as King Phillip continues to play and sing, the Princess Pea reaches out and gently picks Despereaux up. She compliments his small, velvety ears, and Despereaux... (full context)
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When King Phillip is done playing music, the Princess Pea announces that she’s going to keep Despereaux as a friend. The king, however, says that... (full context)
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Despereaux begs the Princess Pea to not cry and offers her his handkerchief. King Phillip shouts at Despereaux to not... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...what Furlough saw. The Mouse Council listens openmouthed as Lester describes Despereaux letting the Princess Pea touch him. When Lester is done, the Most Very Honored Head Mouse says Despereaux isn’t... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...story, “Happily ever after.” Mostly, Despereaux wants to know that his love for the Princess Pea will lead to good things—so reading the story feels like reading a magic spell that... (full context)
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...he loves someone and she loves him—that’s all that matters. That person is the Princess Pea. Furlough snaps that Despereaux is missing the whole point of being a mouse, and he... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...his head and says Despereaux’s reasoning doesn’t matter. He then asks if Despereaux let the princess touch him. Despereaux says the princess’s name is Pea—he did let her touch him, and... (full context)
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...Despereaux’s heart sinks: there’s no light in the dungeons, let alone stories or the Princess Pea. (full context)
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...Antoinette shouts for Despereaux to repent, but Despereaux refuses. He announces that he loves the princess and isn’t sorry. The mice bellow with rage and chant, “to the dungeon.” The Head... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...the threadmaster leans in close to secure the thread, he quietly asks if she—the Princess Pea—is beautiful. Despereaux says she’s lovely. The threadmaster pulls back and says the Pea is lovely,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...at him to not touch it. As they walk, Despereaux admires this upstairs world: Princess Pea’s world, one that’s full of music. Suddenly realizing the Pea won’t know where he is,... (full context)
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...hooded mice push him. Despereaux flies down the stairs, thinking of two words: Perfidy and Pea. (full context)
Chapter 14
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Despereaux decides to be a knight in shining armor for the Princess Pea. He decides the best way to be brave is to tell his story, so he... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...room until he gets to the banquet hall, where King Phillip, Queen Rosemary, the Princess Pea, and some nobles are dining. Roscuro has never seen happy people, and he’s enchanted. The... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...the bright, beautiful light. But not even the loud party can hide Roscuro forever—the Princess Pea spots him and shouts that there’s a rat on the chandelier. Nobody hears her except... (full context)
Chapter 21
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The queen loves soup more than anything, aside from the Princess Pea and King Phillip. For this reason, Cook serves soup at every meal and goes to... (full context)
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...he didn’t look back at his daughter, so Roscuro looks back. He sees the Princess Pea glaring at him with a look that tells him to go back to the dark... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...fire. Because of his burning soul, Roscuro went upstairs. Because he went upstairs, the Princess Pea saw him and called him a rat. Hearing that word caused Roscuro to fall into... (full context)
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...job, Botticelli says, is to make people suffer. Roscuro agrees—he’s going to make the Princess Pea suffer for what she did. As Roscuro plans down below, upstairs Despereaux hears music for... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...gets close enough, and Mig sees that it’s King Phillip, Queen Rosemary, and little Princess Pea. They’re surrounded by knights and horses, all in shining armor, and each royal wears a... (full context)
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The Princess Pea asks King Phillip why Mig isn’t waving—Pea is a princess, and Mig should wave back.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...earlier. She describes the “human stars” that were “glittering and glowing.” Mig shouts about the princess, the king, and the queen, and she says shyly that she’d like to be a... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...the fields hoping to see the royal family again. The hope that she’ll see the princess one day sits in Mig’s heart, right next to the hope that Mig herself will... (full context)
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...missing. The soldier says he’ll take her to the castle. When Mig confirms that the princess lives there, she says she’s happy to go. The soldier says it doesn’t matter to... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...the serving staff, Louise, sends her to deliver a spool of red thread to the princess. Louise reminds Mig to curtsy to the princess in a shout. All the way up... (full context)
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Mig stands, searches the floor for the thread, and gives it to the Pea. The Pea thanks Mig—she can never keep track of her red thread. She then shows... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...Chiaroscuro is plotting his revenge, and upstairs Despereaux is falling in love with the Princess Pea. There will absolutely be consequences. (full context)
Chapter 31
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...stairs, telling herself that she’d be glittery and full of light if she was a princess. She even sings a song about becoming the Princess Pea one day. Mig isn’t a... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...Roscuro asks if it’s correct that Mig has aspirations, such as wanting to be a princess. He also tells her that she doesn’t need to shout. Mig agrees that she does... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...he’s happy he escaped the dungeon. Now, he has a chance to save the Princess Pea from Chiaroscuro’s terrible plan. Despereaux is so exhausted and full of emotions that he sobs... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Mig repeats the plan: they’ll sneak into the Princess Pea’s room when she’s asleep, wake her up and show her the knife, and they’ll tell... (full context)
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The narrator acknowledges that Roscuro’s plan is ridiculous. Nobody will ever mistake the Princess Pea for Mig, or vice versa—but Mig isn’t the most intelligent, and she desperately wants to... (full context)
Chapter 37
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The Princess Pea is asleep and dreaming that the queen is holding a spoonful of soup out for... (full context)
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...it wrong and emerges from her pocket. He crawls onto Mig’s shoulder and addressing the Pea himself, he tips his spoon crown to her and suggests that he follow Mig. Mig... (full context)
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The Princess Pea looks straight at Roscuro, and her heart skips several beats. Roscuro asks if she knows... (full context)
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As she dresses, the Pea asks if Mig will do up her buttons for her. Roscuro says Mig will not... (full context)
Chapter 38
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As Mig and the Pea make their way to the dungeon, with Roscuro hiding in Mig’s pocket, the rest of... (full context)
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Now, it’s time to talk about the Princess Pea’s heart, since the narrator has described the hearts of all the other characters. The Pea’s... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...came back with Gregory’s body. Mig is also missing. Despereaux knows he’s too late: the princess is gone. Sobbing, Cook asks what kind of a world it is where princesses disappear... (full context)
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...and says nothing will ever be right again. There’s nothing to live for without the princess, she says. Despereaux is shocked, as he never expected to hear someone like Cook speak... (full context)
Chapter 40
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Despereaux checks the throne room first and then, on his way to the Pea’s room, he comes upon the Mouse Council deep in conversation. He stops and the Most... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Despereaux finds King Phillip in the Pea’s room, sobbing and holding the tapestry of her life to his chest. He’s crying so... (full context)
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...a mouse, he bellows that mice are almost rats—but Despereaux says he knows where the Pea is. The king leans close, and two of his tears land on Despereaux, leaving two... (full context)
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...he’s lying. There are magicians on the way, and they’ll tell the king where the Pea is. The king refuses to listen. Despereaux sits back, pulls at the thread still around... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...is going to do with the thread. Despereaux says he needs it to save the princess; he’s the only one who can. He needs the thread so he can navigate the... (full context)
Chapter 43
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...notes that when calculating Despereaux’s odds, it’s essential to add in his love for the princess, since love is so powerful. But still, rolling the spool is hard work. When Despereaux... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...soup smell wafts toward Despereaux again, and he sniffs the air. Cook says that the princess is missing and times are terrible, and the only answer is soup. Despereaux agrees. Cook... (full context)
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...he must want more. But Despereaux says he’s headed to the dungeon to save the princess. This makes Cook laugh, but she says she won’t stand in Despereaux’s way. She holds... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...and suffering. But Despereaux feels strong, since his heart is filled with love for the Pea and his stomach is full of Cook’s soup. So, he begins to work the spool... (full context)
Chapter 47
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...only a needle to defend himself, and he has to both find and rescue the princess. To himself, Despereaux says it’s impossible, and he should go back. But then, he says... (full context)
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...no harm, but he has to get past. He’s on a quest to save the princess. Botticelli says everyone wants the princess; the king’s men were down here earlier and didn’t... (full context)
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Botticelli confirms that in order to save the princess, Despereaux must first find her. He asks what would happen if he showed Despereaux exactly... (full context)
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...wants Despereaux to suffer. He plans to do this by taking Despereaux right to the princess, and then killing Despereaux—the hope and love Despereaux will feel will make him even tastier.... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...is his as Despereaux starts to cry. Despereaux begs Botticelli to take him to the princess as the rats gleefully say that they smell tears. Botticelli stops and tells Despereaux that... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...forward, it has to go backwards a little bit to what happened when Roscuro, the Pea, and Mig arrived in the dungeon. Roscuro leads the girls to a hidden chamber and... (full context)
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...Roscuro how she looks. He says she looks “laughable” and will never look like a princess whether she’s in a crown or not. Mig blinks back tears as Roscuro tells her... (full context)
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Mig says she wants to be a princess, but Roscuro says that nobody cares what she wants. Mig has heard this many times... (full context)
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The Pea gently takes Mig’s hands and says she wants her mother, too. Roscuro tells the girls... (full context)
Chapter 50
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Despereaux shouts for the Princess Pea that he’s come to save her. The Pea looks up and shouts Despereaux’s name. This... (full context)
Chapter 51
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...begs Despereaux to kill him and says he just wanted some light. He kidnapped the princess because he wanted some beauty and some light for himself. Botticelli shouts that Despereaux should... (full context)
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Turning to the sobbing Roscuro, the princess puts a hand on her heart. She’s likely feeling the same thing Despereaux did when... (full context)
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...the flavor is already ruined—there’s been too much forgiveness, and that’s disgusting. Roscuro asks the Pea if she’s serious, and she says she is. Mig notes that soup is illegal, but... (full context)
Chapter 52
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Readers must be curious whether everyone lives happily ever after. The answer is complicated. The Pea gives Roscuro free access to the castle’s main floors, and he moves back and forth... (full context)
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Despereaux doesn’t marry the princess, so that version of happily ever after doesn’t come to pass (this world isn’t that... (full context)