Book Reviews: The Prince and the Pauper

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain

Tom Canty, a young pauper in England, dreams of living a better life. One day he finds himself inside the king’s palace and in the presence of the prince. The two boys are the exact same age and discover that they look identical. They are amused and swap clothes to entertain themselves. Chaos, of course, ensues and the prince is thrown out of his own palace, while Tom Canty is unwillingly thrust into the role of prince in the confusion.

I was expecting a short parable or fable about two boys, in very different situations, who end up swapping lives for a day. I’ll admit most of this assumption was based on watching the Mickey Mouse version of the Prince and the Pauper when I was young. I also didn’t realize that Twain used an actual prince, Henry VIII’s only son, Edward VI, as the title prince in his story.

The book is more of a lesson in merciful leadership than a fanciful tale. The heart of the story lies in the true prince learning the importance of governing with a balance of strength and wisdom, not just blind power.


Teacher/Learner said...

I saw the Mickey Mouse version years ago, too, and would probably have his squeaky voice in my head the whole time if I read this :D The story sounds similar to The Parent Trap, no?

Jeanne said...

Are you gearing up for the release of his unexpurgated autobiography?!

Jenners said...

I love that your previous experience with this story was from a Mickey Mouse show!

Rebecca Chapman said...

i didnt know about this book but i might give it a try

B said...

i haven't read this twain and it sounds really interesting. next time i'm in the mood for a classic i may track this one down. thanks.

Jessica said...

I read this when I was very very young and I had no idea MArk Twain wrote this. Im sure I remember a film version as well.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I am pretty excited about that!

I would say this one doesn't have the same amount of delightful Twain wit as most of his other books. I did miss that.