A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

It can be very intriguing to get the story of a little girl whose father dies when she is still tender with no one to give her a perfect upbringing. Listening to or reading such a story fairy tale will sure raise goose pimple on the audience. A little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett captures the life and experiences of a young girl, Sara, following the death of her father.

Abandoned to her fate, she will meet the good, the bad, and the ugly in her poor and helpless towards life journey for survival. Strangely it is during such worst moments that Sara meets, noble and kindhearted Mr. Carrisford. And guess what! Mr. Carrisford informs Sara that her father left a vast fortune that would sustain her for the rest of her life! Already one can draw lessons which should stand as cut-across themes in Frances Hodgson Burnett, “A little Princess”; Friendship, Nobility, Generosity, and Perseverance.


“A little Princess” was written for children and was first published in 1905. It turned out that it captured the admiration of readers of all ages. This story is about a young girl, Sara, who lived through two worlds. In her first world, it’s all roses, with all her heart desires being fulfilled. In the second she lived in uncertainly, through adversities and torture.

Young Sara Crewe may have been born with a golden spoon, after all, growing up in a well-to-do family; hell, however, let loose with the sudden death of her father. She suddenly finds herself impoverished and forced to abandon her life of privilege for that of subsistence for existence. Thanks to her ingenuity, because she is an intelligent and super imaginative student, Sara thrives to survive those hard times. Even under such unbearable conditions compared to her past, Sara began to imagine herself to be a little princess.

Even though she becomes penniless, she remains herself. She is abused, demeaned, exploited as a servant, but finally, her endurance pays as things will take a positive turn for her. How her fortune changes makes “A little Princess” one of the favorites in children’s literature. The national association of education named the book among its top Teachers books for children in 2007. It also ranked 56th among all-time children’s book in 2012


A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a story that deals with the experiences of young Sara Crewe and how she deals with the rise and falls in her fortunes.

Sara Crewe is the seven-year-old daughter of Captain Ralph Crewe, a wealthy British Solider stationed in India. Captain Crewe loves and adores his daughter and her quaint, precocious ways. He loves to spoil his daughter and makes sure she always gets the best of everything. But despite this, Sara Crewe remains an unaffected, generous, and friendly child, not placing much on her riches, her good looks, or her intelligence.

The story opens with Sara Crewe and her father on their way to Miss Minchin’s Boarding School to enroll Sara there. When they reach the seminary, Captain Crewe tells Miss Minchin to treat his daughter as “a parlor boarder” (a privileged category of pupils at a boarding school) and that she was to enjoy even greater privileges than parlor boarders usually did. Before he finally leaves for India, he also gets Sara a new doll, with curling golden-brown hair, eyes which were a deep, clear, gray-blue, with soft, thick eyelashes. Miss Minchin agrees with everything and also flatters both of them to ensure their continued patronage, not wanting to lose such a prize pupil.

When school begins, Sara has no difficulty coping with her subjects, being a vast and enthusiastic reader. She surprises her French master, Monsieur Dufarge with her knowledge of French and her accent, making an enemy out of Miss Minchin who doesn’t like to be intimidated in front of others. Critical also start teaching other sidelined pupils like Ermengarde, the school dunce. She tames Lottie, a four-year-old student whose tantrums had been a great trouble to Miss Minchin and Miss Amelia. She also makes a friend out of Becky, the scullery maid. Sara Crewe captivates most of the students with her cheerful, generous, and unaffected manner, and through the stories she tells that they start calling her Princess Sara.

Four years pass by an on Sara’s eleventh birthday, Miss Minchin throws a large party for her, contributing her own money to it. However, during the party, Captain Crewe’s lawyer arrives with some unfortunate news that Captain Crewe has died. His most recent investment, which was in a Diamond Mine with his friend Mr. Carrisford, had failed, leaving Sara penniless. This throws Miss Minchin into a rage as she had spent an abundance of her own money on the party. Miss Minchin takes everything away from Sara except for the doll Emily, and one simple dress, to pay these bills. She makes Sara work in the school without pay from that day forward. Miss Minchin forces Sara to teach the younger children French, run errands, and help in the kitchen and the schoolroom. She shifts Sara’s living quarters to a cold and poorly furnished room in the attic next to Becky’s room. Yet, despite the change in her fortunes, Sara manages to maintain her graceful, princess-like manner. Despite starving most of the time, she cheers herself and Becky up with her imagination, pretending to be a prisoner in the Bastille or a princess disguised as a servant.

An Indian Gentleman moves to the house next to the school. This man happens to be Mr. Carrisford, who had been searching for Sara Crewe. While working in the Diamond Mines, Carrisford had fallen sick with brain fever and had not been able to communicate with Captain Crewe. The Captain, fearing that he had been cheated out of all his fortunes, had died of shock, not knowing that the mines were, in fact a hugely successful enterprise. When Mr. Carrisford recovered and had realized what happened, he spent two years trying to find Sara to make it up to her. He was misled, and for two years, he had no idea where Sara was, presuming that she was in school in France.

One day, Mr. Carrisford’s monkey escapes to the adjoining attic of Miss Minchin’s seminary, and Mr. Carrisford’s servant, Ram Dass, goes over to the attic to retrieve it. Seeing the poor state of Sara’s room, Ram Dass tells Carrisford about the girls living conditions. Together they decide to give Sara and Becky a pleasant surprise. They leave warm blankets, comfortable furniture, food, and other such gifts in the attic for Sara and Becky. This help comes at a time when Miss Minchin decided to punish Sara by not giving her anything to eat. Sara and Becky, who often play pretend, are pleasantly surprised to find their dreams come true and believe it to be the work of magic.

One day, a package arrives at the school for Sara, from a ‘Mr. Carrisford’, with an expensive dress in Sara’s correct size. This makes Miss Minchin panic, and she, believing Sara must have a long-lost wealthy relative, starts treating her better. She begins to allow Sara to attend the class again, and goes back to treating Sara as her prize pupil, to make up for the abuse she inflicted on Sara over the years.

The same night, the monkey again comes into Sara’s room, and she coaxes it to stay for the night. The next morning, Sara visits Carrisford’s house to return him. While talking to him, Sara casually mentions that she too, was born in India. This surprises Mr. Carrisford, who starts questioning her with the help of his lawyer. In the end, she is found to be the lost child of Captain Crewe, and Carrisford offers Sara to stay in his own house. Sara gladly accepts, but Miss Minchin comes over when she hears of the change in Sara’s fortunes and tries to coax and then threaten Sara into returning. But she is rebuffed. Becky’s fortunes improve too when Sara asks her to live with her and be her maid, in much better living conditions than at Miss Minchin’s. The story comes to a happy conclusion with the poetic justice of evil being punished and good rewarded.


Sara Crew is an epitome of perseverance, even amid adversity. While she is passing through agony and torture from the hands of Miss Minchin, she remains kind and gentle. Her troubles bring out many good attributes in her. She envisages herself as a Little Princess in other to keep her spirit up and to keep going. When she is hungry and tired from overwork, she remains steadfast and keeps on fantasizing and imagining coming out from her ordeal. Her unrelenting perseverance ensured that she eventually meets the noble and kind Mr. Carrisford.

The theme of perseverance educates privileged little children about things like hunger, orphans, dropping out of school, and adversities in general. These things are real-life circumstances children might never know until they read this fantastic novel. The book makes them understand that life is not a straight line. There are ups and downs, and how you adapt to these unforeseen changes as Sara does is what makes the difference.

Also, the theme teaches children and adults to keep their principles even in the face of adversities. It also teaches children about the power of dreams, ambitions, and visualization.

When Sara is working as a slave, she always visualizes a better life. She thinks about beautiful clothes, pearls, diamonds and every other thing that she wants.

Sara’s story depicts real-life scenarios such as that of now-famous singer Katy Perry. She has put great efforts all her life to find herself to the top. She started her career early in life, dropping out of school to pursue singing. Perry began with the gospel, recording her first album with Red Hill Records, but the record failed woefully. Katy switched to singing circular songs, recording a lot of albums with different recording companies, but still failed. However, she continued doing odd jobs and doing back-up vocals. Then her first single hit track in 2006 marked her success story.


“A little Princess” is a children’s favorite, and he who talks to children talk about friendship. And friendship is one of its themes. Charming young Sara, who Miss Minchin maltreats befriends a little black girl. Both of them live in the attic, and together they use their friendship and imaginations to keep going in the face of great tribulations.

In life, no one is an island. At some point, we all need a helping hand, and that’s where friendship comes in. How would Sara bear all her pains without having the little black girl beside her? With inner grace, she may have overcome her challenges. But making friends with the little black girl helps both of them much. They prove to be real friends and walk together when the rest of the world walks out. They were together through thick and thin. Sara also made friends with Lottie and Ermengarde. These two never judge Sara or turned their back at her.

The theme of friendship in “A little Princess” has positively influenced many children. Most of them are now beginning to value friendship more. Children learn not to judge people or turn their backs on others during hard times. No matter how lovely your dog or cat is, a real human friend is indispensable. Having friends and a good one at that is good for children, it constitutes good morals.

Nobility of mind

There are many things that we can learn in a traditional book like “A little Princess.” These lessons can be applied in real life and may save you from stressful situations. Frances Hodgson created a perfect tale that can influence readers positively for the rest of their life. One such lesson is the nobility of mind, and every child ought to have this attribute.

The theme of the nobility teaches children that looks, social status, or riches is less critical to the nobility of mind. Sara was born with a silver spoon, but she lost the spoon when her beloved father died. What kept her and made her who she is not because she came from a privileged home. Her father died, and there were no more riches for her. But eventually, she rose back to grace like a Phoenix rising from the ashes because she had a noble mind.

When Sara Father, Captain Crewe, gives her all the money and wealth, she had the nobility not to look down on the less privileged. Her nobility ensured that she got along with children that are not on the same social class as her. Eventually, when she lost everything and came down to the lows, Sara still maintained the nobility of mind to keep her decorum. She exhibited perfect behavior that attracted a few friends to her.

Kids need to realize that good behavior and morals are better than wealth and riches. The nobility of mind attracts respect to someone that portrays it. Our children can learn it through training or by reading a captivating book just like this one. They should understand that other people around them are important and deserves respect too, no matter their status and condition. Also, this teaches them that someone who hasn’t got everything can still be noble in life.

Social disparity

“A little Princess” is a beautiful novel that illustrates how a little girl born with a silver spoon loses the spoon with the death of her father. This allowed Princess Sara to live in two worlds literally. The first world where she got all her wishes and the second a world where she could barely survive.

Sara was a motherless child. Her adoring father raised her and usually gave her all she wanted. Imagine that in a London school, other students call her princess because of her generous, affectionate, and charming nature. But after the death of her father, the same students turned their backs on her, and she suffered abuse and neglect. She fell from grace to grass and took on the role of a servant because she had no money.

This book teaches us how quickly things can turn around in life. It is vital for kids to learn ethical values in life by reading exceptional novels like “A little Princess.” We believe that both girls and boys would easily connect with her story and learn from her exemplary lifestyle. One thing we love about young Sara Crewe is that though her social and financial status changed, she didn’t lose her good attributes. She is not a fair-weather character.

The primary focus in the theme of Social disparity is on the way Sara treats people and how she was treated in both worlds. When Sara’s dad was alive, Miss Minchin treated her like a queen. But when Sara’s dad died, and she had no money, Miss Michin treated her worse than a servant. Later on, when Sara became wealthy again, Miss Minchin Eleanor Bron attempts to flatter her and make her come back. This perfectly illustrates the hypocrisy that we see in today’s society and how Children can handle it better r after reading “A little Princess.”


One of the lasting memories of “A little Princess” is how generous Sara is. She has the habit of giving to the less privileged. She always gives to beggars and offers to feed all hungry children. The Novel teaches children how to be generous and the consequences that come with it.

In society today, there are many orphanage homes. In the US alone, there are about 400 thousand children in foster care. Also, according to estimates, there are approximately 75 million children in the US.  This implies that if kids can read “A little Princess” and learn generosity from it, then there should be no hungry children. Humans learn and are motivated in different ways. Stories move most people and some others, facts, and figures. Regardless of which is applicable for your child, Sara teaches every child to care for the needs of other hungry children.

The theme of generosity in “A little Princess” can make a positive impact on readers. If kids all read it, then the world would have been a better place today. Instead of taking and cheating others, children would learn to give. Also, people will contribute more to charity if the majority of them read and tap from the lessons in “A little Princess.” Sara has a selfless drive for life and always hunger to do things for others.

Well, the adage “what goes around comes around” is correct. In the end, Sara meets the kind and noble Mr. Carrisford, who cares for her and takes her as his daughter. The exciting aspect is that Mr. Carrisford happens to be Sara’s late dad’s business partner. Her fortune shines again, and she moves back from grass to grace.


“A little Princess” has inspired several movies due to its compelling storylines and the moral values it offers. The book teaches about perseverance, imagination, friendship, courage, resilience, generosity, and lots more. The story ideally provides many opportunities to reflect upon the life of Sara and to know the essential things of life. This way, it should inspire our look to life.

Sara’s story provides many moral lessons for girls and boys that can enable them to overcome difficult times and gain respect in society. Some main lessons are resilience, kindness to others, and the power of thought. The power of thought is the most useful and most durable power we possess.

Another important aspect of the book is not to reflect reality but to create reality and the things we want by our power of imagination. Sara inspires children to believe that fate will reward our virtues and actions. A little Princess is a book that can serve as a perfect gift for any child or even an adult. One powerful children film adapted from this book made a significant impact in 1939 and another in 1995. The director of the 1939 adaptation used Shirley Temple Black, as Sara, to bring the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett alive. In 1995, Alfonso Cuaron featured headmistress Miss Minchin, Sara Crewe, Liesel Matthews, Becky Vanessa lee Chester to create another exciting children film.


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