How does Kate DiCamillo use hope in The Tale of Despereaux?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author included recurrent elements of hope especially for the protagonist in the story. The protagonist was faced by a myriad challenges since birth but not without the chance of survival. Hope in that case was used to bring out and magnify the challenges that the protagonist faced.

The use of hope introduced the element of suspense where the protagonist was always rescued at an opportune time. The author also employed hope as an ingredient for success and continuity, as seen when Despereaux, Princess Pea and Roscuro shared a table in the end, showing hope for a better relationship and future among them.

Despereaux was born the last of his litter, the others all died shortly after birth and it was expected that he would die too. His birth was abnormal and this confirmed his short life according to his family. He was born with eyes open including unusually large ears. His name attested to the hopeless nature of his entry as seen when his mother named him Despereaux (Despair).

The mouse grew into a rebel and as expected all odds were against him. The King opposed his friendship with princess pea, his brother and father betrayed him and he was eventually banished from his kind. However, the protagonist received encouragement from unlikely quarters, the threadmaster, who restored his hope for survival. When it was expected that Despereaux’s fate was sealed and that he would die at the hands of the rats, the author introduced Gregory, the jailer and Despereaux’s protector while in the dungeon.

The author ended the story with hope for a better future among the three estranged groups; the mice, the rats and the humans. The author chose to confirm the recurrent theme of hope through the story’s ending.