The Mediator: Shadowland – Suze, the Symbol of Good that Mankind Possesses

In the following essay KB analyzes how Meg Cabot composes the protagonist from her series The Mediator: Shadowland to exhibit desirable characteristics that represent the good that exists in human beings.KB argues that Cabot’s heroine, Susannah Simon, symbolizes the goodness in mankind.

Susannah Simon is symbolic of the good that mankind possesses.Despite this heroine’s youth, high school education, and lack of choice she represents what individuals in reality desire to be.Through Meg Cabot’s use of first person narrative, consistent sarcasm, and witty language, she establishes a realistic character that people can relate to.Because of this understanding the audience feels with the protagonist, it is easy to realize the sacrifice Susannah makes in order to help others around her – representative of embodying the best of mankind.

Susannah (also called Suze) describes herself as, “I am pretty much the contact person for just about anybody who croaks leaving things…well, untidy.Then, if I can, I clean up the mess,” (27).This very colloquial definition of a mediator shows how Suze is only a young girl; sixteen to be exact.Despite her young age, however, Suze is very experienced at mediating through her independence and cleverness.She has been able to see ghosts for as long as she can remember, which she recalls her first encounter at only two years old.Even then she realized that others could not see ghosts.For this reason, she quickly discovers that it is better off not to mention their presence to anyone.Because she cannot tell others of her interactions with the dead, Suze becomes very self-sufficient.Through this independence, she has been forced to learn things on her own, like how to take care of herself and help the ghosts that need her.This defining characteristic shows how she is mature and capable of leading her own life.

Many people may believe Susannah is helping these spirits solely because she does not have a choice.While it is true that Susannah is unable to blind herself of ghosts, she does indeed choose to help them, even when she resents it.Suze chooses not to ignore her abilities, and decides, instead, to embrace them.
Imagine, being haunted – literally haunted – by the dead, every single minute of every single day of your life.It is not pleasant.You go down to the deli to get a soda – oops, dead guy on the corner.Somebody shot him.And if you could just make sure the cops get the guy who did it, he can finally rest in peace.
And all you wanted was a soda.(28)

This passage shows Susannah’s humorous outlook on her situation.Susannah is describing the hassle it is to help the dead.She is discussing how her “gift” is a full time job, anywhere she goes.

Although Suze has not even graduated from high school yet, she is quite clever.Suze does not let this lack of a full education stop her from discovering intelligent ways to overcome obstacles.At one point in the story, Suze explains how, “The hard part about breaking a window isn’t the breaking part, or even the reaching in part.It’s getting your hand out again that always causes cuts,” (114).To solve this problem, Suze wears thick black gloves to prevent injuring herself.Suze’s cleverness allows her to outsmart things that seem too difficult for her to handle, a trait many people would like to own and have the opportunity to express.

Susannah’s ability to figure out ways to efficiently complete tasks has also gotten her into much trouble.Susannah has the choice of leading a normal teenage life, but instead she decides to sacrifice her own needs and desires for the sake of strangers.This puts herself and the relationships she has established with those she loves at risk.This alone shows how Suze is special in how she puts herself second to people she does not even know for the most part.For her unselfishness, she has been misunderstood by most of the people around her – her best friend does not even know the truth.Susannah has suffered from strains in her relationship with her mother because she refuses to tell her.Suze has been forced to attend therapy because her mom is worried about her, “I’ve spent any number of hours in my mother’s therapist’s office, being assured that this tendency I have to talk to myself is perfectly normal, but that my propensity to talk to people who aren’t there probably isn’t,” (32).In New York City, where she used to live, Suze was an outcast to her peers because they found her to be strange and violent.On several occasions, Suze has been arrested by the police for trespassing, breaking and entering, and vandalism.No one understands why she gets arrested because they do not know why she is there.

Susannah’s sacrifices show how she is a very generous person, despite the cockiness and even rude mannerisms she often times unmasks.Her sometimes rash decisions and hard-headedness are by-products of her frustrations she has as a mediator who has to hide who she is to almost everyone.Cabot’s way of narrating the story in the first person gives the audience a chance to feel the emotions Suze feels.This is effective at portraying to the audience how Suze is symbolic of being the embodiment of the best of mankind because the readers experience Suze’s life first hand.Suze’s age is emphasized throughout the entire work through her constant sarcasm and smart remarks to remind the audience that this extraordinary person, who consciously makes decisions that put herself in danger, is just a young girl.

Almost everyone wishes that he could live up to his potential.Making the time to contribute one’s talents for the world to appreciate and benefit from is often times very difficult with today’s busy schedules.But, Susannah Simon, a teenage girl, manages to accomplish this, again exhibiting traits that most people can only hope to have.Her internal conflicts show how making the right decisions is not easy.Her recognition of the consequences of her actions makes her transcend above just doing good deeds because she acknowledges the costly effects it has on her and the people she loves.

K.B. 2008

Aimed Audiences by Meg Cabot’s use of Different Points of View in The Mediator: Shadowland and She Went All the Way

In the following essay, KB analyzes the use of different points of views in Meg Cabot’s The Mediator: Shadowland and She Went All the Way to gear her novels towards younger readers and adults respectively.KB argues that Cabot intentionally reveal the stories in this manner for the appropriateness of the separate audiences.

The way Meg Cabot uses her writing style to engage audiences is very apparent in all of her works.She is the author of nearly fifty books, most of which are geared towards younger readers, like her The Mediator: Shadowland series.This story is told from a sixteen-year-old-teenager’s point of view to relate to audiences of about this age group.In another of Cabot’s novels, She Went All the Way, Cabot uses third person to widen the range of her language and content in this story, which is why it is meant for more mature audiences.

The first person point of view of the protagonist, Susannah Simon, in The Mediator: Shadowland greatly contributes to Cabot’s goal of reaching out to younger readers.Unlike The Mediator, She Went All the Way is told through a third person point of view.Susannah (Suze) is only sixteen, while in She Went All the Way, the story of two adults, Lou Calabrese and Jack Townsend, including secondary adult characters, is being told.

While both stories are very colloquial, Suze’s language is very easy to understand and, for teenagers, very easy to relate to.Since the omniscient narrator takes the voice of those being described, much of the language in Cabot’s adult fiction novel is more mature, aiming towards more sophisticated readers.While there is profanity in The Mediator: Shadowland, Cabot, through Suze, keeps it PG in comparison to some of the language used in the story of two stranded and distressed Hollywood stars someplace in Alaska. Also, the fact that the story is told in third person allows the audience to enter the minds of both sexes and of a variety of characters at different points in the story.Everyone’s feelings are expressed.This sometimes leads to some very gender based thoughts, for example, Lou’s, a woman’s, description of Jack Townsend:

With his thick dark hair already turning noticeably gray in spots, and his nose that was no longer aquiline due, it was rumored, to a long-ago prep school fight – the guy was one of the Manhattan Townsends, of Townsend Securities, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and legacies coming out of his finely sculpted rear end – Jack fell far short of being the teen heartthrob material Barry had always been.Barry – aka Bruno di Blasé – was a bit of a pretty boy, truth be told.Jack Townsend would never, ever be considered even remotely pretty…let alone a boy. (21).

And later Jack’s description of Lou Calabrese:

Even a less practiced gaze than his own could detect the narrow waist, high round breasts, and slender legs those loose-fitting garments were supposed to hide.She was tall, too, at least five eight, and that was without the help of two-inch heels on her boots.Lou Calabrese had the kind of endlessly long legs a man wouldn’t mind having wrapped around him on a winter’s night…
Now what had put that image into his head? (26)

These descriptions mask the extreme dislike the two have for each other in the beginning of the story.To clarify, Jack Townsend is a lead in the movie Lou wrote as the screenwriter.He changed the trademark line his character was supposed to be known for from, It’s always funny until someone gets hurt to I need a bigger gun.This line became very famous to all fans of the show, so it bothered Lou tremendously that it was not her line that became well-known.Lou would probably have forgiven him, but her hate remained because he dumped her best friend.Eventually, Lou and Jack do find themselves liking each other, while lost in a blizzard in Alaska, since the helicopter taking them to a film location crashed.

Suze expresses her emotions and thoughts down on every page, but the audience does not experience what is going on in the minds of the other characters in the story.Again, this limits the amount of inappropriateness the story contains since Suze is still quite young.The audience is drawn closer to Suze because they see, hear, taste, smell, and feel what she feels.At some points in the novel, she even directly speaks to the audience: “Okay, let me state right now that I am not a coward.I’m really not.But I’m not a fool, either.I think if you recognize that you are up against a force greater than your own, it is perfectly okay to run,” (128).Suze speaks to the audience because she is writing down her experiences in some form of a journal, although she never says where exactly.

Because Suze chooses to write her story down, she most likely, out of fear of someone finding it someday, restrains herself from putting down anything too inappropriate.The audience is limited to a teenage mentality.For a teenager, it is comforting to know that a person can manage to survive all the seemingly impossible hardships life brings.A teenager may be looking for a story to help her realize that difficult times pass – a theme Cabot wants to emphasize in this young adult novel

The omniscient narrator of She Went All the Way, tells the story as it is presently happening.The readers do not know what is going to happen next, and because the story is not being recorded anywhere, nothing is restrained.The story is less censored because the narrator tells the story through the dialogues and streams of consciousness of the characters.The story is comedic throughout, however, the audience still learns of a plethora of personalities, which can be more appealing to adult readers.

Overall, Cabot creates two extraordinary works that have proved to be a success to the corresponding age groups.She could have easily written the novels in reverse points of view, however, this would have taken away the effect the stories have on the audience.The personal experience of Suze in The Mediator is essential to the story and its impact on the reader, while the different view points of the characters in She Went All the Way is needed to keep the audience well informed and open to all sides of the story.

K.B. 2008




The Complexity of Identity in The Princess Diaries
[(Essay date 17 June 2013) In this essay, J.D. analyzes the author’s humorous delivery of a character’s struggle with identity in Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries.]


In Meg Cabot’s witty and captivating novel The Princess Diaries, the struggle to discover one’s identity is observed through Mia Thermopolis’s encounters in high school. Through Cabot’s use of humor and epistolary format, one can determine that the struggle is one of complexity and difficulty.

An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The Princess Diaries contains a collection of journal entries following the life of a teenage girl living in New York City. Mia Thermopolis balances several unusual events in her life – the growing relationship between her mother and Algebra teacher and the discovery that she is the heir to the throne of a small European principality – while experiencing the normal tribulations that come with adolescence. The use of this format gives the reader an inside look into the private thoughts of Mia as she tries to discover who she is. Cabot uses the narrative mode known as stream of consciousness to portray Mia’s views on the events in her life. The journal entries flow through her thought processes as she ponders each obstacle she must overcome. Each event is told in her voice, and through her diction and tone, the opinion she has on the subject is shown. When she finds out that she is the Princess of Genovia during a conversation with her father, a fictional country created by the author, her reaction is revealed through what she writes in her journal:


“’You’re not Mia Thermopolis anymore, honey,’ he said...
I raised my head at that. ‘I’m not?’ I said, blinking a few times. ‘Then who am I?’
And he went, kind of sadly, ‘You’re Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, Princess of Genovia.’
Okay.
WHAT? A PRINCESS?? ME???
Yeah. Right”(Cabot 44).


With the diary format, the reader easily interprets Mia’s voice and attitude. Her confusion at her identity is made known through her description of what happens in her life. She is shocked when she finds out that she is a princess, and struggles with the new identity she has acquired.

Cabot also employs the use of humor in her novel. This technique enhances Mia’s struggle with identity while giving the book a light-hearted tone. After Mia finds out she is a princess, she runs to Central Park to be alone. While there, she processes what she has just found out and who she is. She characterizes herself by saying,


Nobody was going to attack me because I was this five-foot-nine girl running in combat boots, with a big backpack with bumper stickers on it that said stuff like SUPPORT GREENPEACE and I BRAKE FOR ANIMALS. Nobody messes with a girl in combat boots, particularly when she’s also a vegetarian” (47).

Cabot’s witty diction and comical tone both illustrate Mia’s perception of who she is at this moment. Her statement declares who she believes she is, yet fails to truly encompass all of her identity. Mia does this several times in the novel – and each time a new part of her is revealed. As Mia struggles with her new role as a princess while still trying to lead a normal life, the reader observes her growth and the realization that she may not ever be able to fully characterize who she is because of the complexity of her life. She likes to believe that she is a normal teenage girl, yet is constantly finding herself in unusual situations that suggest otherwise. Finally, by the end of the novel, Mia comes to terms with her identity. She accepts that she may not be able to put an exact label on who she is.


Meg Cabot uses both humorous diction and a diary format to portray Mia Thermopolis’s struggle with identity. The light-hearted approach makes the novel entertaining and enjoyable to read, yet still enhances the overall struggle of the discovery of one’s identity. Through the character of Mia Thermopolis and the events in the novel, it becomes clear that one may never truly know his or her identity because of the complexity of his or her life.



J.D. 2013



Coming of Age in Forever Princess
[(Essay date 17 June 2013) In this essay, J.D. discusses Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries Volume X: Forever Princess as a Bildungsroman novel.]

A Bildungsroman is a novel centered on formation or coming-of-age. It focuses on the psychological and moral growth of a character from youth and adolescence to adulthood. In this genre, a specific change is very important in the growth of the character.

Mia Thermopolis, the protagonist of Meg Cabot’s novel Forever Princess, comes to adulthood in the final installment of the Princess Diaries series. The novel focuses on the life of Mia and her experiences with teenage love and betrayals, as well as her encounters as the princess of the fictional country Genovia.

The story picks up after a period of two years has passed, where Mia stopped writing in her journal because of her preoccupation with her hobby of novel writing. Mia, coming to the end of her high school career, still writes in the anxious tone that the reader becomes accustomed to throughout the series. She, however, handles events more maturely than she does in the previous novels. As the book continues, the reader observes Mia making better decisions and fixing problems the way an adult would. The conclusion of the novel focuses strongly on Mia’s reflections of her past, and how certain relationships have affected her and who she has become.

The book begins the same way the first novel, The Princess Diaries, started. Mia is preoccupied with her insistent lying. She lies to her friends, her parents, and herself about several topics. She realizes it is wrong of her, and as the novel progresses, begins to tell the truth and realizes that the results are not disastrous. Mia learns from her mistakes and transitions into an honest adult by the end of the novel.

Evidence of Mia’s growth is also seen in her lack of interest in her school’s senior prom. In the fifth book of the series, Mia is infatuated with the idea of prom, and tries her best to attend. In Forever Princess, however, Mia distances herself from the excitement and states that she does not want to go. During a discussion on the subject with her friend Tina, she writes:

Doesn’t Tina realize a lot of time has passed – and a lot of water gone under the bridge – since we sat in class when we were in tenth grade and fantasized about our perfect prom nights?
She can’t possibly think I still feel the same way about it that I did back then.
I’m not the same person I was back then” (Cabot 26).

Mia has grown into a different person than she was earlier on in the series. Now, she feels differently about her school’s events and she considers them juvenile.

I used to be crazy for the prom. I would sooner have DIED than missed it.
I guess in a way I wish I could recapture that old excitement.
But we all have to grow up one day” (34).

Mia changes from a teenager into a young woman, and her actions and thoughts prove this transition. She feels that she has outgrown the things she used to feel excitement for, and she realizes her mistakes and errors. She learns from them and knows she will make better decisions in the future.

As the novels progresses to an end, Mia works out her problems and ends her final journal entry with a last thought on relationships.

“...I realized something. Something I think might be really important:
This princess thing, which four years ago I was convinced was going to be the ruination of my life, had turned out to be just the opposite. It’s actually taught me things, some of them very important. Like how to stand up for myself, and be my own person. How to get what I want out of life, on my own terms...
It’s taught me something else, too.
And that’s that as you get older, you lose things, things you don’t necessarily want to lose. Some things as simple as . . . well, your baby teeth when you’re a little kid, as they make way for your adult teeth.
But as you age, you lose other, even more important things, like friends – hopefully only bad friends, who maybe weren’t as good for you as you once thought. With luck, you’ll be able to hang on to your true friends, the ones who were always there for you . . . even when you thought they weren’t” (382).

Mia’s reflection on her friendships and past show her true growth from youth to adulthood. Psychologically, she handles situations with more maturity, and morally, she learns to always do the right thing. The change in her character is seen most clearly at this point in the novel, when she sets the stage for a happy ending to come.


J.D. 2013