A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver Characters
by E. L. Konigsburg

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Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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Power, life's purpose, and a woman's place are among the themes of A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver. Foremost, as illustrated by Eleanor's life, is the theme of choosing and developing the kind of person one wants to become. The ways government and the people it governs respond to each other intertwine throughout the book.

Four characters narrate different parts of the story. Abbot Suger has been Louis's teacher and Louis and Eleanor's confessor. Like Eleanor, he favors beautiful things. As a monk, he turns that taste toward decorating a new church. He recalls Eleanor's decisiveness at her wedding ceremonies, her growth in understanding a queen's role, and the disastrous Crusade to Constantinople, Antioch, Damascus, and Rome. While on earth, his understanding of Eleanor's nature helps hold the royal marriage together, but Louis divorces Eleanor, and she marries Henry of Anjou, who becomes King Henry II of England.
The Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I of England and mother of King Henry II, narrates the next segment. Matilda, a politically aware woman, has always recognized the value of Eleanor's experience, knowledge, beauty, and lands. With a mother's pride, she recounts Henry's accomplishments, duly acknowledging Eleanor's contributions and indicating that the fifteen years she observed seemed to be a perfect partnership of talents. An astute judge of character, Empress Matilda predicts the quarrel between Henry and his chancellor, Thomas Becket.

William the Marshall, a knight true and loyal to whichever Plantagenet currently rules England, narrates the third section, in which Eleanor, in revenge for Henry's infidelity, goes to Aquitaine to rear her sons Richard and John to rebellion against...

(The entire section is 412 words.)