free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

THEMES

Major Theme

The major theme of the novel is "appearance and reality" or "image and identity." The protagonists of the novel fail to establish their identities and are instead recognized only through the images they present. Tom Canty is accepted as a prince because he looks like one, while Edward Tudor is thought to be a pauper, since he is dressed in rags.

Minor Themes

Two other Themes are also present in the novel, "environmental determinism" and "progressiveness of history." Mark Twain firmly believed that environment was responsible for the behavior of a person and that with the progress of time individuals and society changed for the better.

Edward is born a prince and Tom a pauper. However, when they are forced by circumstances to reverse their roles, they behave accordingly. Edward learns to lead the life of a pauper, and Tom molds himself to the life of a prince. Environment, slowly and steadily, determines their attitudes and behavior. Edward develops a moral sense through suffering, while Tom loses a similar moral sense through luxury.


Mark Twain was highly influenced by W. E. H. Lecky's History of European Morals, which held that, over time, "society became less barbaric through each individual's experience and education." Twain tried to communicate this idea of the progressiveness of history in The Prince and the Pauper. Henry VIII was ruthless in his attitude to his subjects, while he himself enjoyed benefits of his position. John Canty is a drunkard and a vagabond who forces his son to beg and beats him mercilessly if he refuses to do the job. However, both Tom and Edward are able to break out of the molds they are born into through their experiences. Tom is saved through both his experience and education, which prepare him for the role he is forced to play. Edward is also saved through his education among the poor and downtrodden of England. The suffering that both boys undergo make them effective and benevolent rulers. Tom, in his brief reign, begins to enact reforms, and Edward, once he regains the throne, proves true to his word and rules his kingdom with mercy.

MOOD

The prevailing mood of the novel is serious, as the story is set in sixteenth-century England, under the reign of the autocratic ruler, Henry VIII. However, Mark Twain lightens the atmosphere of the novel considerably with his masterstrokes of irony, creating humorous scenes and eccentric characters to amuse and entertain readers.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:53:23 AM