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The Prince and the Pauper

Mark TwainÆs The Prince and the Pauper is a fish out of water story. One fish, Prince Edward, exchanges places with a pauper boy to whom he bares more than a little resemblance, Tom Canty. Tom is forced to beg for his living and suffers at the hands of an abusive father. Prince Edward is stifled by the demands and obligations of princedom. When Prince Edward and Tom are thrown together by circumstances, Prince Edward longs to ôrevel in the mud once,ö while Tom longs to wear the PrinceÆs robes, ôjust once,ö (Twain, p. 1). In his ôprincelyö robes, Tom learns the manners and mores of court, while Prince Edward is subjected to abuse and violence during his stint as a ôpauper.ö In the end, Twain reveals that no ruler of the people is a good ruler of the people unless he knows the needs of his people and that even a prince and a pauper may share more in common than imagined.

Twain demonstrates human nature is often subject to error when it bases its perceptions on appearances. When Tom puts on EdwardÆs robes, nobody believes him when he says ôI was born a pauper. It is only by accident that I am here,ö (Twain, p. 2). It is easier for those at court to believe Prince Edward has gone ômadö than to believe a pauper is playing the role of a prince. Likewise, nobody believes Edward is the prince, because he is dressed in ragged clothes and is unclean. When Prince Edward insists he is the kingÆs son, he is subjected to physical abuse, ôCantyÆs broad palm sent the boy staggering into the arms of TomÆs mother,ö (Twain, p. 2). Thus, Twain shows how deceiving appearances are to most people who do not critically analyze a situation.

Another point made by Twain is the arbitrary and unjust nature of poverty and its impact on human lifestyle. Tom is treated like a ôprinceö by those who are related to him and serve the court. The royal and wealthy members of court treat Tom better than he has ever been treated, but...

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The Prince and the Pauper. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:01, March 19, 2019, from