The Prince and the Pauper
Tom Canty lives in one of the poorest sections of London in 1547 during the end of Henry VIII's reign. He dreams of being a prince. One day he wanders down to the castle because of his dreams. While there, a royal parade goes by.
Prince Edward sees the poor boy and brings Tom into his rooms. They look alike so change clothes. Then Prince Edward goes outside of the rooms in the beggar's clothes. A guard sees him and throws him out of the castle. Edward has a chance to see life on the outside of his castle. Tom waits in the Prince's rooms for him to return. The wait becomes longer than expected.
No one believes Edward when he claims his true self. He is dressed like and looks like Tom, the son of a crook and beggar. When Tom's father leaves London to join a gang, he drags Edward along with him. Edward gets an eye opening look at England outside of the caste.
Tom is mistaken for Edward.When he can't answer all their questions, they don't think he's a double - they think the prince has gone slightly crazy. They smile and coddle him. Now Tom is the prince he had dreamed of being.
I've known the basic story of The Prince and the Pauper most of my life. But I've never read the book before. I didn't know how far the story went before Edward and Tom finally change back to where they belong. Mark Twain wrote this book for young people for the market of the day. The first part of the book is interesting, but nothing special. Twain restrains his wit. But in the second half it returns. Twain draws good pictures of "regular" England. He shows the huge gaps between the haves and the have nots.
The spoken language is too flowery for most of today's young readers. I often wanted to say "just get on with it!" when Edward started talking politely to the peasants around him. Tom's story living in the castle is shorter. The good stuff is what happens to Edward, not Tom. When Edward decided to punish Tom for taking his place I wondered what would happen. The whole thing was Edward's fault. But this is a happy story, and all turns out well for both boys. The upright men get their rewards (mostly) and the evil men get their punishments.
The Prince and the Pauper is funny each time the Prince tries to get regal. He expects people to wash him, dress him, and do all his work. He even has a whipping boy in the castle who takes his punishment. Here he gets his own. He gets haughty and is laughed at for putting on airs. Any kid could identify with what happens to him.
Notice: Non-graphic violence
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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