The Gypsy Princess
By Phoebe Gilman, Scholastic Canada
Cinnamon could read fortunes and speak to the wind. She could carve wonderful animals and dance with a bear but she dreamed of great fortune. When one day she is given the opportunity to become a princess Cinnamon gives up her old life without thinking about anyone else. She soon finds that gold cannot bring her all the happiness she thought.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
By Leanne Doherty
Phoebe Gilman’s story The Gypsy Princess addresses various philosophical topics including happiness, friendship and personal identity. In the story, Cinnamon leaves her old life and friends behind in order to pursue her dreams of gold and being a princess, which she believes will make her happier.
Happiness and what you need to be happy is a great place to start a discussion. Asking questions such as “What makes you happy?”; “Does getting everything you want make you happy?”, and “Have you ever not been as happy as you should have been when you received something you wanted?” also known as buyer's remorse, are all good starting points.
One idea of achieving happiness suggests that one should, whenever possible, seek better forms of happiness. As John Stuart Mill believes, there are two pursuits of happiness, lower and higher. Lower pleasures involve immediate satisfaction, such as Cinnamon’s pursuit of a ‘crown of gold’, and higher pleasures are those which engage the mind, strong relationships of friendship. Starting a discussion about the situations that make people happy is a good way to initiate a discussion about what it means to be happy. The Gypsy Princess concentrates on the mistake of not appreciating the happiness that your current situation provides.
Another topic that this story touches on is Friendship. Cinnamon’s material based friendship with Princess Cyprina, one based entirely on gaining wealth from the other person, can be starkly contrasted with the mutually affectionate relationship between her and Babalazzi, a friendship where both parties contribute selflessly for the well-being of the other. These two forms of friendship satisfy different needs. Cinnamon’s friendship with Princess Cyprina would be one stemming from utility, how useful having her as a friend is; whereas Babalazzi satisfies a friendship of pleasure, not for selfish gain. Most definitions of friendship involve a mutual love for each other, or caring for the other person for their sake without any motives. When discussing friendship with the class different types of friends, best friends, acquaintances, classmate, family friends, and the characteristics of good friendship may be considered. Cinnamon’s action of trading Babalazzi with Cyprina may initiate a discussion around the permissibility of a friend to trade up when someone new comes along.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
Cinnamon has great dreams and when Princess Cyprina gives her the chance to live them Cinnamon does not hesitate to leave her friends behind.
"Even Princesses can be unhappy [because] there are things more precious than a crown of gold" auntie told Cinnamon
"Have I changed so much" that even my old friend no longer recognizes me? Cinnamon Wondered