The Tale of Despereaux – Literature – Characters

Desperaux – the knight in shining armour

Desperaux is a tiny, brave mouse, with obscenely large ears, that does not conform to the social order and is, therefore, an outsider. Not only does his physical appearance distinguish him from the others, but also his unusual interests in reading, music and light as well as his attachment to humans. One of the reasons why he finally ends up getting sent to the dungeon is his affection for the princess. But Desperaux is not like the others – he makes the impossible possible. He overcomes this obstacle and makes it out of the dungeon. On the one hand, the little mouse is the most unlikely hero of a fairy tale, but on the other hand, his heroic attributes make him the typical knight of shining armour. None other than Desperaux goes back to the dungeon and risks his life in order to save the kidnapped princess. His belief in himself makes the clever mouse successful. He manages to rescue the princess and ensures a happy end of the story.

Roscuro the Villain

The rat Roscuro could be seen as Desperaux’s alter ego. To be sure, Roscuro is the villain of the story, but he is also a rodent outsider, misunderstood in his striving for more than what his surroundings offer. Born into a society of evil and heartlessness in the dungeon – he is different. He cannot conform to the rat social order and rules. Rather than being interested in suffering like the other rats, Roscuro is fascinated by light. Since there is no light in the dungeon, he follows his unusual desire and goes upstairs to the castle. But an unfortunate encounter with Princess Pea changes everything. Tempted by the reflection of the huge chandelier in the banquet hall, Roscuro cannot resist and climbs on it. Unfortunately, the princess realizes him and presses the panic button. In the subsequent chaos, Roscuro falls into the queen’s soup bowl, whereupon she finally dies of shock. Hurt by Princess Pea’s disgusted look and pejorative denotation/labelling as rat, Roscuro changed suddenly. From now on, the light addicted and lighthearted rat is no longer the same. Filled with sadness, despair but also anger, Roscuro returns to the dungeon and starts making plans to revenge. From now on, he slips into the role of the typical villain of every fairy tale. Princess Pea’s words when she recognizes him broke his heart; therefore the only thing he wants is to break the princess heart and take her everything.

Princess Pea – the Popular

Since every good fairy tale has a princess, this story is no exception. Princess Pea is the stereotypical princess: popular, beautiful and kind. She captures the reader’s sympathy with her charming, honest and caring manners. At the very beginning, there is nothing to worry about at all, but with the death of her beloved mother, her perfect life seems to crumble. The loss has left a big hole in the little princess’s heart. One night, the chambermaid Mig, accompanied by the rat Roscuro, sneaks into Pea’s bedroom. Threatened with a kitchen knife, the stubborn princess puts up a fight before finally being forced to follow them into the dungeon. Even in the deep darkness of the castle, the sharp princess does not lose her resolve or optimism. She is the one cheering up Mig, her kidnapper, when she is lost. Although the princess has been the victim of kidnapping, once she is saved, she chooses sympathy over vengeance: Pea offers the rat, who is responsible for her mother’s death, the choice of where to live – either the dark dungeon or in the light-flooded castle. Nobody could be more sensitive and down-to-earth than this lovely princess.

Miggery Sow – not the sharpest knife in the drawer

Miggery Sow, a poor little girl, named after her father’s favorite pig, lost her mother at the age of 6 and was then sold into service by her father. Her sorrowful life is dominated by a good clout to the ear by a man she has to call “uncle”. To summarize, there is not much hope in Mig’s life: all she is does is work and follow uncle’s orders. But one day, something special happens while Mig is in the fields. The royal family on their horses appears. For the very first time, Mig feels hope: a feeling she has never had before in her life. She expresses her desire to become princess to uncle. But he, like usual, only gives her a good clout to the ear. A few weeks later a soldier appears to collect soup utensils and takes Mig with him to the castle since slave labor is illegal in the Kingdom of Dor. Mig cannot believe what has just happened. Her unpromising life seems to change and her naivety makes her believe in her dream of becoming princess. Although, the little girl is not the most skillful and intelligent, you cannot blame her for having hopes and dreams. In the end, of course, she does not become a princess, but she does grow in maturity. Furthermore, she is reunited with her father who treats her like a beloved princess.