King Fred and his friends symbolize the attitudes of the wealthy and aristocrats that are present even in the modern day. They disregard all the rules and do as they please. They also harbor sexist attitudes towards women, which has been an important topic regarding wealthy, powerful men in the 2010's.
The Ickabog (Symbol)
Throughout the first fifty chapters of The Ickabog, the title monster is portrayed as a terrifying beast who delights in killing and eating sheep, dogs, and people. However, Daisy, Bert, Roderick, and Martha are saved by the Ickabog, and it treats them kindly by keeping them warm and feeding them. The Ickabog is therefore symbolic of people who are judged unfairly based off of preconceptions rather than their actual actions.
Hopes-of-Heaven are a type of pastry made in Chouxville that are said to cause people to cry for joy because they are so delicious. Mrs. Beamish, as the best pastry chef in all of Cornucopia, is the best at making these pastries, and she gives one to Bert when they are waiting for Major Beamish to come home from hunting the Ickabog. Since they learn later that day that Major Beamish has been killed on the journey, the pastries become a symbol of his father's death to Bert. This can be seen when Daisy gets Bert a Hopes-of-Heaven pastry on her birthday and Bert knocks them to the ground in anger.
Many characters in The Ickabog are orphans or are without their parents for different reasons. Lady Eslanda and Captian Goodfellow are both orphans, which is something that creates a connection of understanding between them. Daisy and Bert are also connected by losing their parents; each loses one parent to death and one parent to imprisonment. There are also many other minor characters who are orphans that Daisy and Bert meet at Ma Grunter's orphanage. The motif of orphans raises the sympathy of readers so that they will understand the seriousness of Lord Spittleworth's wickedness and selfishness. This is a motif that features in other books by JK Rowling, most famously the Harry Potter series in which the main character is made an orphan by the main antagonist to show the antagonist's power and wickedness.
Clothing is used as a motif in The Ickabog to give the reader information about social class, attitudes, and relationships. An example of clothing being used to connote both social class and attitude is how King Fred dresses for the Day of Petition. He had intended to wear "white satin pantaloons and matching doublet, with gold and pearl buttons; a cloak edged with ermine and lined in scarlet; and white satin shoes with gold and pearl buckles." This outfit shows that he is enormously wealthy and cares a great deal about his appearance. However, because he does not want to be seen as vain, he decides to instead wear a "black suit, which was the plainest he owned, though still rather splendid, having silver edging to the cuffs and collar, and onyx and diamond buttons." This description shows that even when King Fred tries to seem humble and serious, he cannot escape his wealth and vanity.
An example of clothing being used to show relationships is the clothing that Daisy wears throughout the story. After Daisy's mother dies, Daisy wears the fancy dresses that her mother sewed for her even though "had always been happiest in overalls." This shows Daisy's love for her mother and that she doesn't want to forget her. Similarly, when Daisy is kidnapped and taken to Ma Grunter's orphanage, she is wearing overalls. Years later Rowling writes that Daisy was "still wearing the overalls in which she’d been kidnapped. She’d sewn lengths onto the arms and legs so they still fit, and patched them carefully when they tore." Rowling explains that she continues wearing the overalls because "they were the last thing she had of her home and her father." This demonstrates that Rowling intends to for Daisy's clothing choices to be read as symbolic of her connection to her father and her past.
Ickabog Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Ickabog is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.