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A comparison of the Main Characters in Hana’s Suitcase by Levine and the Paper Bag Princess by Munsch
Hana Brady is the main character in the book Hana’s Suitcase: A True Story written by Levine (2003). Hana Brady is a young girl who finds herself in one of the German’s concentration camp while at a young age (13). As the time goes by, she finds that the laws restricting Jews in these concentration camps are becoming stricter for them. For instance, she finds that she and her brother cannot play in the park as usual, they can no longer go to movie sites, and they are not allowed to go to school or to the lake just like other children in the country (25-30). Hana also finds herself isolated by friends who become afraid to relate with her. This humiliation becomes too much when she and her group are required to put on a yellow Star of David when interacting with other people. This makes her and her brother to retreat to their home in an attempt to avoid these humiliations. This new status is contradictory with their earlier status where they experienced freedom of movement and happier moments. However, she maintains the spirit and hope of living by remembering these times and burying their frustrations (60).
Hana’s Frustrations continue to persist as her parents are taken from her to another concentration camp known as the Ravenswzbruck. This causes a permanent separation between her and her parents. Together with her brother George, Hana becomes a lonely figure in the world. Seeing her loneliness and the suffering, which they undergo, Hanna’s non-Jewish uncle decides to take them in and provide assistance to them. This assistance is however, short-lived as they are again transported to another concentration camp known as Terezin. Two years later on this new concentration camp, Hanna is murdered (114).
Princess Elizabeth on the other hand, is a character found in “The Paper Bag Princess” a children’s storybook written by Munsch, (2005). She is the main character in this book. Just like her counterpart in Hana’s Suitcase, She undergoes many conflicts and frustrations until she decides to live her own life. Just as Hanna persisted on and kept on having hope of life despite the setbacks, Princess Elizabeth also persists in seeking the desire of her life. That is being reunited with her fiancée.
The main desire of Prince Elizabeth is to get married to Prince Ronald, whom she sees as a perfect man in the whole word (6). In her endeavor to get Mr Ronald, there arrives a dragon, which takes him to unknown places, subsequently destroying her kingdom and disconnecting her from her loved one and source of hope. The dragon also burns all her clothes making her to wear a paper bag (9). This was the same case with Hana as when she seemed to be settled, enemies who can also be referred as “dragons” arrived and shuttered her life by taking away her mother, father and uncle. Just like the case of Prince Elizabeth, the separation of Hanna with her loved ones is permanent and they never get to be reunited with each other.
The difference in this perspective is that while Prince Elizabeth follows the dragon and challenges it in an attempt to get connected with Ronald, Hanna does not take steps to follow her parents who had been taken away. Prince Elizabeth takes many initiatives to simply get connected with her fiancée. For instance, she follows the dragon up to its residence and challenges it to fly around the world and burning the entire forest. This was meant to make it feel tired and sleep so that she could get a chance to rescue her lover. She eventually succeeds in this endeavor as the dragon gets very tired and sleeps, therefore, giving Prince Elizabeth a chance to rescue her lover. Although they are reunited with Prince Ronald, he is surprisingly not appreciative and demands that she return without him because her class was higher than his (24). She is forced to return without her fiancée and lead a lonely life.
Both characters here encounter monsters that interfere or change the course of their normal lives. While Hana was confronted with Hitler’s men who could be compared with “monsters” due to their ruthless nature and who were always a source of frightening to her, Prince Elizabeth was also confronted with a monster, which destabilized her life, leaving her with almost nothing in her life. It should be noted that these “monsters” leave the characters with nothing to rely on and makes them to lose hope of living.
Both Hana and Princes Elizabeth become very lonely and decide to lead their own life after being separated with their loved ones. The major difference in these stories is that while events and characters in The Paper Bag Princess are fictitious, those in Hana’s Suitcase are true. Furthermore, the story of Hana ends tragically, when she is murdered in the concentration camp while in Prince Elizabeth’s case, we are only informed of her resolve to lead a lonely life.