The Tale of Despereaux

by Kate DiCamillo

Start Free Trial

What events occur in The Tale of Despereaux?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Tale of Despereaux, a mouse falls in love with a human princess, is cast out of the mouse community in punishment for breaking the rules, suffers the darkness of the dungeon, and eventually saves the captive princess from the plot of a rat. Despereaux is joined in his adventures by several other characters, including Princess Pea, Gregory the jailer, Roscuro the rat, and Mig the maid.

The story begins with the birth of a mouse. Despereaux is not a normal mouse, though. He can speak in a human way. He can read, and he is fascinated by music and especially by fairy tales. Despereaux finds a connection with the humans, especially with Princess Pea, whom he loves and speaks to (against mouse rules). Despereaux is condemned for this love by the Mice Council and sent to the dungeon with the “red thread of death” around his neck.

In the dungeon, there lives a colony of nasty rats. There is one rat in particular, Roscuro, who is fascinated by light. Roscuro, however, was once indirectly responsible for the death of Princess Pea's mother, and he is horrified by the events and by the princess's angry rebuke, and these turn him bitter. Roscuro wants to make the princess suffer.

There is another prisoner in the dungeon who once sold his daughter for a hen, some cigarettes, and a red tablecloth. The girl's name is Mig, and she has had a very difficult life. Her greatest wish is to become a princess, but she actually ends up a maid in the castle. Roscuro plots with Mig to capture the princess, and Despereaux overhears them.

By the end of the story, Despereaux has saved the princess but only after Mig has cut off his tail. Despereaux receives some unexpected help from Cook and a bit of strength from some illegal soup. The princess forgives Roscuro, who then leads them out of the dungeon. Mig and her father reunite. Despereaux is restored to the mouse community and retains his friendship with the princess.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial