Prince and PauperTitle : The Prince and The Pauper

Author : Mark Twain

ISBN-10: 0140436693

ISBN-13 : 978-0140436693

Paperback : 224 pages

The Plot :

Mark Twain’s ‘The Prince and The Pauper’ is a classic tale of identity exchange. Beautifully written, this story is set in 1547 England during the reign of King Henry VIII. The main characters are, as the name suggests, a prince named Edward Tudor and pauper named Tom Canty, who bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.

The only life that the pauper has known involves begging all day long, sleeping on an empty stomach and being on the receiving end of a harsh beating from his father and grandmother every night. The prince on the other hand is the most celebrated child in all of England. He has every comfort he can think of but it all come with certain formalities and ceremonies that he has to abide by. To escape the hunger and the pain of the thrashings, Tom builds up an imaginary world where he is a king and retreats into this world every night. Come day light he is utterly disappointed and his only wish in life is to meet a real life prince. The only thing Edward longs for is to play in the mud and the river as he pleases but is not allowed these ‘luxuries’ on account of his position.

One day it so happens that the prince and the pauper happen to see each other and realize how alike they are and how the other has the life they dream of. So they decide to exchange clothes and to pretend to be each other. During the course of this the price sees the difference between how people of different classes are treated in his kingdom. He pauper at the same time learns about the charmed life the prince lives.

They both have a series of adventures, including threats to their life, escaping captivity, regal dinners, matters of the state and law, gangs of thieves and a prison stint. Along the way the two boys make strong allies who help them adjust to their new roles without any knowledge of the switch. In the end the real prince has to return to his rightful position to take the throne after his father, King Henry VIII passes away, but no one believes he is the real prince. With a nail biting finish, the story concludes with a very positive note.

What I personally loved in the book were the multiple instances that show the innocence of children and the way it is juxtaposed with the cruelty and wickedness of adults. I also like the language of the book, being written in the Victorian style that gives it a sort of formality. It transported me to a different era, and I love that aspect of a book. Overall it is a very good read and I highly recommend it.


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