The Prince and the Pauper Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Prince and the Pauper.
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The Prince and the Pauper Summary & Study Guide Description

The Prince and the Pauper Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain.

The Prince and the Pauper is a fable or fairy tale for young readers written in the 19th century by Samuel Clemens, under the pen name of Mark Twain. It tells the story of two boys in 16th century England who were born on the same day and look identical, but are unrelated. One, named Edward Tudor, is a prince and the other, named Tom Canty, is a pauper. Edward Tudor was a real person in history, but Tom was invented by Twain. Through unusual circumstances, Edward and Tom meet and exchange clothing, which leads to everyone confusing the identities of the two boys.

Edward makes the mistake of leaving the palace while wearing the rags of Tom. A sentinel, thinking Edward is a pauper, throws him off the palace grounds, and a period of privation, humiliation, and danger ensues for Edward. Meanwhile, the people at court see Tom dressed in Edward's finery and are convinced that he is the prince. Tom tries to tell them that he is not Edward, but the courtiers think he has gone temporarily mad. Even his father, King Henry VIII, thinks this is the case. In the slums of London, Edward likewise tries to tell everyone he is the prince, and he gets nothing but jeers and beatings in return. The story moves back and forth between the adventures of these two main characters. Tom's new life causes him fright and guilt that gives way to tedium and homesickness, and then to increasing appreciation of his incredible luck and the benefits of being rich, famous, and powerful. Edward's troubles seem to deepen as the story goes on. He is pursued by Tom's evil father, who thinks Edward is his son and the boy is dragged into a gang of thieves and beggars who roam the countryside, harassing the people. A kindly soldier named Miles Hendon takes the boy under his wing and helps him out of one scrape after another, but Miles has his own troubles, trying to get back title to his ancestral lands, which were stolen from him by his younger brother, who also forced married Miles' sweetheart to marry him while Miles was away at war. After Henry VIII dies, the palace prepares, amid great pomp and circumstance, for the coronation of Tom as the next king. Meanwhile, Miles and Edward find themselves in jail, and then get separated, and Tom's father renews his pursuit of Edward. When Tom sees his mother, who recognizes him in a royal procession, he denies that he knows her. This immediately causes him such remorse that he can no longer take pleasure in being a false prince. Edward finally gets back to the palace, and Tom quickly helps him to prove that he is the true prince. Edward is crowned, and he rewards everyone who helped him, including Tom and Miles, while punishing those he met during his adventures who were evil. Mark Twain ends the story by describing the fates of all the principal characters and a number of supporting characters in the years following Edward's coronation. As in real life, Edward dies of illness while still a youth, but Twain's invented characters, Tom and Miles, have happy lives.

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This section contains 537 words
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