The Prince and the Pauper

Enhance understanding with a teaching guide that offers teaching activities, chapter summaries, chapter questions, historical notes, and vocabulary for use with Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
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Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper

Miles Hendon and Edward make use of the announcement to escape from the mob. Edward realizes he's the king. As Hendon and Edward reach Hendon's lodgings, Canty shows up to reclaim the boy. Hendon defends the boy against Canty and takes him into his home and vows to take care of him.

After hearing Miles' story, Edward vows to clear Miles' name and proceeds to tell his own tale of misfortune. Miles still thinks Edward is crazy and vows to help him regain his health. Edward offers Miles his choice of rewards for saving him from the crowd.

Historical Note
• The practice of displaying the decapitated heads of treasoners on London Bridge began in the late 14th century and was not discontinued until the late 17th century.

1. Why does Miles Hendon take such good care of Edward even though he doesn't think Edward is the king?
2. Why does Edward expect to be waited on? How does Miles react to Edward's expectations?
3. Why does Miles ask to sit in the presence of the king? Why is that a huge privilege?
4. Miles Hendon may well be Mark Twain's homage to Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha. Discuss how each of these authors uses the courtly tradition for ironic and humanistic ends.

• waif (68)
• soliloquizing (71)
• ablutions (72)
• alacrity (72)
• covetous (73)
• raiment (74)

1. Research the legends of London Bridge and the uses of London Bridge as a deterrent to treason and other crimes.
2. Discuss how notions of deterrence have or have not changed since the time of Tudor England.

"By the mass, the little beggar takes to one's quarters and usurps one's bed with as natural and easy a grace as if he owned them - with never a by-your-leave or so-please-it-you, or anything of the sort." (71).

"And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!" (77)


Edward demands that Miles help him undress and takes his bed for the third night in a row. Miles takes pity on Edward's insanity and goes out to buy the boy some new clothes, even though Miles doesn't have much money. He buys clothes with holes in them, planning to stitch them up.

Miles returns to find Edward gone and discovers through a bumbling servant that a young man accompanied by a "ruffian" came to get the boy, claiming that Miles had sent them to get Edward. Miles realizes it is Canty, who claims Edward is his son Tom.

Historical Note
• The Tabard in Southwark, where Miles plans to take Edward, is most famous for being the meeting place of the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

1. Why does Miles think bigger stitches are better? Where in our culture do we think "bigger is better"?
2. Why is Canty so determined to get "Tom" back?

• perplexity (78)
• dissipated (78)
• athwart (78)
• betwixt (79)
• plebeian (80)
• trussed (80)
• cozened (80)

Compare the scene in which Miles sews the garment up with the scene in Huck Finn in which Huck tries to pass for a girl with Ms. Judith Loftis. Why does Twain see humor in this sort of situation?


Tom wakes, thinking his experiences have all been a bad dream, only to realize that they are real. He dreams of finding twelve pennies - a fortune - and giving them to his father without having to beg or steal them.

He is dressed by his servants in a two-page ordeal and deals with the affairs of state; for example, the burial of his father and the paying of the bills. Tom is horrified that the late king will not be buried for quite a while and that the royal household owes more than it has in its coffers. Later in the afternoon, Edward's whipping boy Humphrey asks Tom what will become of his family, since his services are no longer needed. After Tom grasps the concept of "whipping boy," he vows to take his studies back up again so that his servant will not starve.

Humphrey gives Tom enough information about Edward and his past to help him function. The Earl of Hertford feels confident enough with "Edward" to ask him about the whereabouts of the Great Seal. When Tom cannot answer, Hertford realizes he is straining "Edward" too much and changes the topic.

Historical Note
• The position of Lord Protector is the most powerful man in the kingdom.

1. How is Tom's dream ironic, given his current situation?
2. Why does Twain belabor the dressing process? How must Tom feel about this whole experience?
3. Why is Tom's suggestion about moving the royal household to a smaller place to deal with the financial problems scoffed at?
4. How does Tom feel about the actual ruling of a country? What statement is Twain trying to make about government?
5. How is the whipping boy's predicament ironic?
6. What are the lords trying to show the subjects by having "Edward" dine in public?

• asunder (84)
• illustrious (86)
• morrow (86)
• aggrandizements (87)
• brevity (88)
• perplexedly (89)
• annulled (90)
• peradventure (90)

1. Twain's fascination with twins extends to many "twin" experiences with both Edward and Tom as well as the people surrounding them. Find examples of these parallels and explain how they help highlight the irony of their circumstances. For extended research, check also in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson.
2. Compare and contrast Twain's use of "twins" with Dickens' use in A Tale of Two Cities.
3. Research the reasons that the royal coffers of Henry VIII would have been depleted.


Royalty from abroad arrive to honor "Edward's" crowning on the third day of Tom's kingship. He worries about the fourth day, since he has to dine in public and appoint Hertford as the Lord Protector. A riot breaks out the fourth day because of the impending execution of a man, a woman, and a young girl. Tom commands that they be brought forward and learns that the man is accused of poisoning another man, and the woman and girl are accused of witchcraft.

Tom recognizes the man as the one who rescued Giles Witt from the Thames on New Year's Day at eleven o'clock. Since the poisoning was proven by being foretold by witchcraft, he sentences the man to death; but the man proves his innocence by providing the alibi of the Thames rescue, which took place at the same time as the poisoning. Tom sets him free.

The accused witches are said to have caused a storm by pulling off their stockings. Because the woman's home was destroyed by the storm as well, because the young girl could not enter a contract with the devil by English law, and because the woman could not create a storm on command, Tom frees the two. The crowd cheers his judgments, and "Edward's" popularity soars among the kingdom.

1. Tom feels more and more a captive as king than he did as a pauper. What does this signify?
2. What do Tom's wise judgments say about democracy?

• fettered (93)
• dreariness (94)
• durst (95)
• forebore (95)
• indecorum (98)
• wending (99)
• cataclysm (101)

1. Research witchcraft trials of 1500s England. How could an accused witch be freed?
2. Compare and contrast the witchcraft trials in Pauper to those found in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.


Day Four: The dinner hour nears. Twain describes in great detail the preparation for the public meal. Tom eats successfully and thinks he'd gladly endure public scrutiny, since it freed him from the heavy duty of ruling for a while.

1. Why does Twain frequently take the reader "behind the scenes"? What does he accomplish by doing this?
2. What is the purpose of the royal taster?
3. What do paupers have in common with royalty?

• peals (104)
• blithe (104)
• formidable (105)

How do public figures dispel rumors? Find examples of famous people who tried to repair bad reputations. To what extent were they successful?

"He seated himself at table without removing his cap, and did it without the least embarrassment, for to eat with one's cap on was the one solitary royal custom upon which the kings and the Cantys met upon common ground, neither party having any advantage over the other in the matter of old familiarity with it."(104).


Miles follows the trail, now cold. A ruffian with his left arm in a sling, a green patch over one eye, and a limp and a staff to help him walk, follows behind a youth and Edward. The youth, named Hugo, says that Hendon has been hurt and needs Edward's help. Edward rushes toward the forest and finds a burnt farmhouse with a dilapidated barn. When he asks where Miles is, both men laugh at him. Mr. Canty reveals himself to Edward and confesses that he's murdered the priest and is on the lam, disguised as Hobbs. Homesick, Edward falls asleep. When he awakes, he sees a fire in the barn, which is surrounded by a large group of more ruffians and criminal types, drunk and singing rowdy songs.

Canty has rejoined the gang after many years, and the gang approves of his accidental murder of the priest. An escaped slave branded with an S on his cheek comes forward, seeking refuge in the gang. If the authorities find him, he will be hanged. Edward becomes indignant about the slave law and comes forth as king, saying that will never happen now that he is king. Edward is laughed at, and Canty/"Hobbs" explains that "Tom" (now "Jack") has lost his mind. Edward tells John he'll hang for his crime, and John attacks him. The Ruffler, the chief of the gang, saves the king and wins Edward's approval by acknowledging his loyalty to the king. Edward thanks them, but the Ruffler tells him to take another name. Someone suggests "Foo-foo the First, king of the Mooncalves," and it sticks. The rest of the evening is spent making fun of Edward through mock worship.

Historical Notes
• Henry VIII passed a law that consolidated the professions of the barber and the surgeon in order to better regulate both professions and to prevent surgeons from accidentally infecting their barbering customers after contact with seriously ill people.
• "Dick Dot-and-Go-One," according to Francis Grose's Dictionary, is a nickname for people who have one leg shorter than the other, who tend to "waddle."
• Twain's use of yokel in this chapter is an anachronism.

1. Why does Twain go back to Edward's story at this point?
2. What is honorable among this group of thieves?
3. How are disguises used in this novel? How are multiple identities/aliases useful to Twain's characters? In other Twain works?

• famished (106)
• sirrah (107): sir; an address to those of a lower status
• traversed (107)
• prating (107)
• budges (110): clothes-stealers
• bulks and files (110): pickpockets and their mates
• clapperdogeons (110): born beggars
• maunders (110): beggars
• dells, doxies, morts (110): women
• proffered (114)

1. Language mini lesson: Learn Cockney rhyming talk used by gangs to avoid being detected by police. Try to create your own slang code.
2. Taking the perspective of one of the characters, create a rap using as many of the older English expressions as you can. How is modern rap similar to Cockney rhyming talk?
3. Translate the quotation from the Ruffler into modern, standard English. "Five and twenty sturdy budges, bulks, files, clapperdogeons and maunders, counting the dells and doxies and other morts." (110).


The Ruffler puts "Jack" in Hugo's charge while the gang invades a farmhouse, making the family serve them. Hugo takes "Jack" begging. The king refuses, so Hugo tells him to play decoy while he begs. Hugo writhes on the ground, but when a kindly stranger comes near and offers money and assistance to Edward's "brother," the king denies that they are related. He tells the stranger to "heal" Hugo by hitting him with a staff. Hugo runs off, and Edward is turned away at all of the farmhouses he stops by. He finally hides in a barn, taking a horse blanket to sleep on. He wakes up several times during the night thinking a corpse has been laid next to him, only to find a calf snuggled close.

1. What does Edward discover about the life of a peasant?
2. Why does Edward feel so peaceful with the calf?

• petulant (115)
• ribald (115)
• epithets (115)
• levy (119)

1. Make "Wanted" posters for Canty/"Hobbs," the Ruffler, Hugo, or any of the other gang members. Make sure to include a picture as well as a list of their crimes. 2. Compare 16th-century attitudes toward begging to today's attitudes.


Edward is discovered by two children. When he tells them he is the king, they believe him, but their mother considers him mad and takes pity on him. Still, she tries to find ways to make him tell the truth. Finally convinced he must have helped in the palace kitchen, she orders him to cook for them. He agrees, since King Alfred once did the same. He gets a tongue-lashing when he lets the dish burn. Because of their mutual embarrassment at their behavior, both drop their expectations - his for royal treatment, hers to treat him like a beggar. He agrees to wash the dishes and numerous other chores, again citing Alfred the Great's example, until he sees Hugo and Canty come to the door. Edward escapes.

1. Why do the children believe Edward, though the adults do not?
2. What is ironic in the way Edward and the farmwife treat each other?
3. Why does Edward decide to perform the menial tasks?

• demented (123)
• holpen (124): help
• sagacity (125)
• cordial (125)
• staggerer (125)

Compare the reigns of Edward VI with Alfred the Great, the West-Saxon ruler. What are the similarities?

"When I am come to mine own again, I will always honor little children, remembering how that these trusted me and believed in me in my time of trouble, whilst they that were older thought themselves wiser mocked at me and held me for a liar." (123).

"It does us all good to unbend sometimes." (125).


Edward meets a hermit who thinks himself an archangel. He believes Edward is king, but has forsaken the crown for a life of prayer. After learning Henry VIII is dead, the mad hermit ties up the sleeping Edward, intending to kill him because Henry VIII did not make the hermit pope.

1. Look at the changes Henry VIII made in the relationship between the throne and the church during his reign. Why would the hermit be angry at the king?
2. What is Edward's attitude towards the hermit's tale?

• mortification (128)
• archangel (129)
• apprehensions (129)
• venomous (130)
• hovel (132)

Investigate the effects of the separation of church and state during Henry VIII's reign.


The hermit whets his knife, preparing to kill Edward. Miles Hendon enters the hovel, and the hermit tells Miles that he has sent Edward on an errand. Miles realizes the hermit has lied when the hermit tells Miles he's an archangel. Miles waits until he decides that Edward has become lost. The hermit offers to help find him, but both are beaten by Canty and Hugo, who "rescue" Edward.

How does Miles know that the hermit has lied about Edward being sent on an errand? Why is he so easily deceived?

• whetted (133)
• placidly (133)
• inarticulate (134)
• palter (134)
• vagrant (134)
• complaisance (135)


Now that Edward is back with the gang, Hugo "tortures" the king by stepping on his toes. King Edward beats him in a quarterstaff fight and gains the respect of the rest of the gang, earning the nickname "king of Gamecocks." Hugo feels vengeful toward Edward and puts a "clime" on Edward's leg to torture him while making him beg. The slave from Chapter 17 strips Edward's bandage off because of Edward's kindness toward him. The Ruffler appoints him to steal instead of beg, a worse punishment for Edward.

Hugo is happy; now that Edward has to steal, he plans to get Edward arrested. Hugo steals a bundle from a woman, passes it off to Edward, and runs off. Edward drops it, but the woman sees him and catches him. The crowd wants to thrash him, but he is saved by Miles, who tells the crowd to leave it to the law.

1. Why is Hugo so intent on destroying Edward?
2. Why is Edward so bent against begging or stealing? What does that say about his character?

• annulled (138)
• unslaked (139)
• cudgel (139)
• mendicant (140)
• stealthily (140)
• pilfering (141)
• tirade (141)
• paltry (141)

1. Develop a "Crook's Cookbook" of tricks and scams, including a recipe for a clime.
2. Write a diary from Hugo's point of view explaining why he hates Edward so much.

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