Literature / The Prince and the Pauper

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Left: Edward VI of England. Right: Tom Canty. I think...

The Prince and the Pauper 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. When they exchange clothes just for fun, they accidentally end up mistaken for each other, and the boys become forced into each other's everyday situation. 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.

The book was adapted to film many times. A 1937 film adaptation starred Errol Flynn as Miles Hendon and Claude Rains as the villainous Earl of Hartford. A 1990 animated cartoon short of the same name stars Mickey Mouse (in his dual role) as both the prince and the pauper who exchange clothes and swap identities but one of them was captured by the captain of the guards, Pete, along with Donald Duck (just before Goofy rescues them). A 2004 version had Barbie (in her dual role) as the princess and the pauper who exchange clothes and swap identities (the 2004 Lionsgate DVD release is long out of print but the 2010 Universal DVD re-issue is still available). A 2007 updated version stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse (TV's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody) alongside Kay Panabaker (Fame) as their ultra cute versions of Tom Canty and Prince Edward. A most recent version had Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell who accidentally switch places with Garrett Clayton and Grace Phipps, hence the official name of Teen Beach Movie, shown on Disney Channel, as a beach-side adaption of the classic story.

It is the Trope Namer for Prince and Pauper, and arguably the story is Lost in Imitation.

Tropes used by the novel:


Tropes found in the 1937 film:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Tom using the Great Seal for a nutcracker got everyone, including the Archduke, laughing after a moment.
  • Adaptational Villainy: After the prince is born, Henry cruelly tells Jane Seymour she no longer has any reason to exist. Say what you will of Henry VIII, it's known that he absolutely adored his third wife.
  • Match Cut: Between the Prince of Wales newborn in his bed, and the newborn pauper boy in his.
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