The Prince and the Pauper was written by Mark Twin, a famous American Writer in the 19th century. It tells a story that happened in the time of King Henry VIII between a prince named Edward Tutor and a beggar boy named Tom Canty. In London in the year 1537, two boys were born on the same day. Tom was the son of a beggar, John Canty, and Edward was the son of King Henry.
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Because of some special reason, two of them looked amazingly alike. Although they were born on the same day, they lived different lives. Edward grew up in a palace and Tom grew up in a small, dirty room in a narrow street. These two boys looked like two different kinds of people that would never meet in this world. But life is sometimes tricky: the pauper and the prince did meet in the palace when they were both ten. That day Tom came to the Palace of Westminster, where the king lives.
Through the great gates he saw Prince Edward. He came nearer, and a soldier pushed him away angrily . Prince Edward happened to pass by at the moment and saw what was going on. As a young prince who wanted to show his princely power as well as being sympathetic, he did not only command the guards to stop their doing, but also invited Tom to go into the palace.
The two boys stayed in the palace and chatted for a long time while playing. They talked about their own lives. Edward was curious about the life of a beggar, and suggested changing clothes for fun. But then something unexpected happened, when the guards saw Edward running out of the palace in beggar’s rags, they threw their prince out of the palace. No matter how the prince explained about his identity, the guards didn’t believe him, and Edward had to leave the palace helplessly and sadly. Out of the palace, Prince Edward had many adventures and suffered a lot of adversities. He was caught by John Canty, who of course thought the prince is his own son , Tom .
When Edward told him that he was a prince, John beat him hard and thought he was mad. Edward escaped from Canty and interrupted a royal feast, shouting that Tom is an impostor. Of course nobody believed him, but Miles Hendon, a soldier who had Just escaped from prison in France, was kind to him and took him to the inn where he was staying. On the way the prince heard the news of the King’s death.
He should now be King Edward. Edward and Hendon went to Hendon Hall, where Hendon hoped to see his father and brothers, and Edith, the girl he loved. But when he ot there, he found that his father and elder brother had died and his wicked brother Hugh had married Edith. Hugh pretended not to recognize him. Hendon was sure Edith knows him, but she would not admit it. Edward wrote a letter to his chief minister.
Hendon thought the boy was mad, and he put the letter in his pocket without looking at it. Meanwhile, Tom had problems too. Everybody thought he was prince, and everybody thought he was mad. He didn’t know how to behave; but the King had told everyone to pretend not to notice. Then the Great Seal, which the King used to seal his important paper, was missing. The King gave it to Edward. Now the prince did not know what a seal is, and of course he didn’t know where it is.
Everyone saw it was a sign that their prince was mad. Then King Henry died, and everyone got ready to crown the new king. Edward and Miles returned to London. Miles wanted to ask the young king to help him to get back to Hendon Hall, and Edward wanted to seize the crown. They were separated because of a huge crowd. Miles went to the palace to ask the young king to help him, and was arrested and searched. The soldiers found Edward’s letter and took it to their officer.
Meanwhile, Edward went to Westminster Abbey and, at the moment when Tom was about to be crowned. Tom was not greedy for the power of King, and was more than happy to have the real prince ascend to the throne. So when he recognized Edward in rags rushing towards, he was extremely happy and relieved. Nobody believed Edward until he told the chief minister where to find the Great Seal. Then Edward was crowned king. Miles Hendon was taken to see the king and saw his friend the mad beggar. Edward makes him Lord Hendon. Hugh Hendon and Lady Edith are there.
Hugh Hendon was put into prison. Lady Edith explained that Hugh forced her to pretend not to know Miles Hendon. Then the king sent for Tom, and made him his chief minister. The novel tells us that a man who does not have a good family but a good heart and willing to help the poor can also be a good king and a good ruler just like Tom. Although his father was a thief and his mother was a beggar, he still ruled England well and abolished lots of cruel laws during his reign that everyone thought he was the real king. On the other hand a wise king who knows how to rule his country and rules his country well needs to spend time with the poor to hear their needs and their thoughts.
At the time when Edward was a beggar, he knew that not all criminals were bad. Some of them had to steal or they would die of hunger. So in the reign of King Edward, he made a lot of good laws according to the poor people’s need. So Edward became a good king in the English history. The novel tells a bizarre story in the 16th century England, but it’s purpose is to reflect American working people’s hard and miserable lives in the 19th century; it describes the rulers who did whatever they liked so as to criticize American capitalist government; it also exposes racial discrimination in the America by vivid description of the Tom and Edward’s ideas, words and deeds after changing their identities.