Literature: The Prince and the Pauper
The Prince and the Pauper
Left: Edward VI of England. Right: Tom Canty. I think...
is an 1882 Mark Twain Historical Fiction
novel about a Street Urchin
named Tom Canty and Prince Edward VI of England switching places. Tom has always dreamed of a better life, and the Prince is fascinated by Tom's lifestyle. They exchange clothes and swap identities, and the boys each find perks and struggles to each of the other's lives. Tom has matters of national importance to attend to and has a hard time adjusting to court life, and Prince Edward finds out just how hard an urchin's life is.
It is the Trope Namer
for Prince and Pauper
, and arguably the story is Lost in Imitation
Tropes used by the novel:
- Abusive Parent: John Canty is a drunkard and brute who terrorizes his wife, son and daughters.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Tom Canty suffers a bit of this.
- Actually Pretty Funny: In the 1937 movie, Tom using the Great Seal for a nutcracker got everyone, including the Archduke, laughing after a moment.
- Author Tract: Living in an age when the legal system was under the domination of the new rich, Twain dropped a few anvils about the dangers of a legal system written strictly to benefit the upper class.
- Cloud Cuckoo Landers Minder: Miles Hendon falls in with the Prince and devotes himself to helping the 'poor mad boy'. Played with, obviously, because The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right.
- Deadly Distant Finale / Foregone Conclusion: As mentioned in the epilogue, the real Edward VI died at the age of fifteen.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The book is laden with examples of medieval "justice" - the horror stories that the Prince hears and the other punishments that he witnesses do much to turn him from a nice but clueless Ivory Tower dweller into a determined agent for reform and mercy once he returns to his throne. Even Tom Canty uses his borrowed power to undo a few bits of legal barbarism.
- Doppelgänger: Seriously, how is it that two kids are exactly alike?
- Emergency Impersonation: Tom has to pose as the prince. The prince's father, Henry VIII, thinks he's actually the Prince suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia and commands him to 'behave normally', and Tom Canty wouldn't dream of disobeying his monarch.
- Fish out of Water
- Gone Horribly Right: Tom and Edward's dreams of living each others' lives for a short time.
- Grass Is Greener: Played entirely straight with regard to the Prince, who thinks Tom Canty's life sounds like fun until he has to live it. Zigzagged a bit in Tom's case; at first he's miserable and frightened, but he gradually gets used to his new life and dreads having to become a pauper again, until seeing his mother snaps him out of it and he begs to have his old life back.
- Have a Gay Old Time: It uses "ejaculated" and "orgies" often.
- Hidden Purpose Test: Tom conducts one using Reverse Psychology to prove an alleged witch and her daughter innocent.
- Historical-Domain Character: Edward, Elizabeth, Mary, Jane...
- The House Of Tudor
- Identical Stranger
- Intergenerational Friendship: Miles Hendon and Edward.
- King Incognito
- Mock Millionaire
- Mutual Envy: This is why the prince and the pauper decide to switch places in Mark Twain's novel and its retellings.
- Princess for a Day: Actually for a period of a few months.
- Rags to Riches: Tom.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Edward
- Street Urchin: Tom
- Swapped Roles
- Un-Person: Hugh tries to make his brother Miles into this.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Both Edward and Tom.