Author: Robert Munsch

Plot Summary: Elizabeth is described as a "beautiful princess," who lives in a castle and wears "expensive princess clothes," and is set to marry Ronald, a prince. "Unfortunately," the story tells us, "a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald." Elizabeth decides to chase the dragon and save Ronald. As all her clothes have been burnt, she puts on the only thing she can find to wear, a paper bag. Finding the dragon, Elizabeth outwits him and saves the prince. When Prince Ronald sees her, he doesn't thank her but instead comments on what a mess she looks like and tells her, "Come back when you are dressed like a real princess." Elizabeth tells him, "[Y]our clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum." The story relates that the two did not get married after all. The book is an effective catalyst for exploring issues around social roles, including gender and class, status and appearance, as well as questions about bravery, gratitude and moral obligations to others.

Posted In: Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

Discussion Questions:

Why does the story tell us that Elizabeth wore “expensive princess clothes?”
Does being a princess depend on wearing certain clothes or looking a certain way?
Why does Elizabeth chase the dragon?
Is Elizabeth brave?
How does Elizabeth save Ronald?
Why doesn’t Ronald thank Elizabeth? Should he?
Does Ronald expect certain things of Elizabeth because she is a princess? Because she is female?
What does Elizabeth mean when she tells Ronald he is a bum?
Does Ronald act like a prince? Does Elizabeth act like a princess?
Does Elizabeth “live happily ever after” without marrying Ronald?