The Rescuers Critical Essays

Margery Sharp


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Rescuers is a delectable story, full of humor and linguistic wit. The story’s purpose is neither to provide moral instruction nor to explore serious philosophical themes, but instead to delight readers with the comical notion of a heroic quest carried out by mice. This situation, along with a melodramatic plot, Byronic settings, and bursts of purple prose, parodies the conventions of popular romantic literature.

The variety and descriptions of the settings suggest romantic parody: The rescuers travel from the Moot-House of the Prisoners’ Aid Society to Norway, where Miss Bianca’s task is to “simply seek out the bravest mouse in Norway”; back across the stormy North Sea and the English Channel to the Moot-House; and finally to the “country of great gloomy mountains, enormous deserts, [and] rivers like strangled seas” where the Black Castle stands. In contrast to the sweeping drama of these scenes, the cage in which Miss Bianca lives as a pet of the ambassador’s son strikes a note of overdecorated whimsy, with its golden wires, painted flowers, Venetian glass fountain, and flowery name, the Porcelain Pagoda.

Parody is also evident in the characterization of Miss Bianca, with her “small . . . perfect figure” that suggests “a powdered beauty of the court of Louis the Fifteenth”; her “low, sweet voice”; and her affected upper-class mannerisms and diction. She is given to such pseudo-poetic exclamations as “My poor playfellow! Ah me!” and writes terrible poetry: “Though timid beats the female heart,/...

(The entire section is 641 words.)