In his book, The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain highlights class distinction very often. It plays an immensely important role in his novel, because Twain places his two main characters in the total extremes of the social class. Through these characters, Edward and Tom, Twain illustrates the vast difference between the high and low ends of the social class in England, shows how ignorant they were of each other, proves that a person’s social status was determined by his appearance, and demonstrates that social status does not show the true worth of a person.Throughout the whole book, Twain shows that there is a huge difference between the English Royalty and the slums. He does this by describing Tom’s and Edward’s homes, the people surrounding them, their way of life, and the way they dressed. The first chapter of Twain’s book starts out like this:In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him. (15)Already in the first two sentences, he shows a drastic difference between the two main characters. Tom was an unwanted child, but the whole nation had been longing for the birth of Edward. Later on in the chapter he makes a comment about their clothes, saying that Tom was “lapped in his poor rags,” and Edward “lay lapped in silks and satin” (15). Twain uses Tom’s and Edward’s homes as another way to portray class distinction. He describes the places where they live so vividly that the reader can almost visualize it in his head. Tom lived on Offal Court, and the name fit his situation pre…
…ction can be found on almost every page. Twain uses it to portray his own views on England’s social classes.
Paul, Kathleen. “The Prince and the Pauper.” Masterplots II: Juvenile and Young Adult Fiction Series (1991). Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. North Haledon Free Public Library, North Haledon, NJ. 3 Jan. 2009 .
“The Prince and the Pauper.” Masterplots, Revised Second Edition (1996). Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. North Haledon Free Public Library, North Haledon, NJ. 3 Jan. 2009 .
Twain, Mark. The Prince and the Pauper. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc., 1964.