First published in Canada in 1881 (a year later in U.S.), ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ tells the story of two boys who are identical in appearance.
It was the year 1547 and Henry VIII was in the throne of England. His son, Eduard, interchanges roles with Tom Canty, a pauper who has an abusive father. The incident happens by chance but afterwards, both boys will insist on proclaiming their false identities: nobody will believe them. People from the Court will think Tom is insane when saying he is a beggar, and people from the slums will think Eduard is a liar and, of course, he is not the future king of England.
Many adventures and a happy end: all will be clear the day of Edward’s coronation (precisely!!), when the true prince helped by Miles Hendon, a disgraced noble, appeared in the ceremony and showed who is him using the real seal.
Yes, I agree, it is not a fantastic plot. However, this first Twain’s historic novel is a master piece when describing the society of that time, their selfishness and thoughts and above all, the injustice of the moment, more evident when it is exercised on children.
Mark Twain is an heir of Enlightenment. His bedside book was a history of the French Revolution (he died with it) and in this novel, the same as in ‘Tom Sawyer’ or ‘Huckleberry Finn’, he is trying to improve current mentalities. Is ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ a social novel? Not at all. Twain is great author and he never forgets Literature for the benefit of political ideologies. Literature is first and what he is creating it is a complete world, justifiable only in itself and in its fantastic prolific characters.
Written by Michael J. Metcalf.