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From chapters 1-15 in The Prince and the Pauper, how did Tom show mercy to three...

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omgitseggnog1212 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 10, 2009 at 8:46 AM via web

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From chapters 1-15 in The Prince and the Pauper, how did Tom show mercy to three people?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 27, 2009 at 1:09 AM (Answer #1)

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As the Prince, Tom Canty shows mercy to a number of people from Chapters 1-15.  These people include a whipping boy, and a man and a woman and her daughter who are sentenced for execution.

The whipping boy, Humphrey Marlow, is a young man whose job it is to take the Prince's punishment whenever the Prince does poorly on his lessons.  Humphrey describes his job, saying that since

"None may visit the sacred person of the Prince of Wales with blows; wherefore when he faulteth, 'tis (the whipping boy) that take them; and meet it is right, for that it is (his) office and (his) livelihood".

The real Prince had "faulted thrice" in his Greek lessons two days earlier, but had promised to intercede on the whipping boy's behalf so that he would not have to be punished.  Hearing this, Tom enthusiastically assures the boy that he will not be punished for the Prince's mistakes this time.  The whipping boy then expresses his fear that he might lose his job because, now the the Prince has been made King, he most likely will not study anymore.  Tom tells Humphrey that his "office shall be permanent in (him and his) line forever, and in a comical contradiction, ironically assures the lad that he will indeed continue studying, and make lots of mistakes in his lessons, so that there will be enormous need for Humphrey's services for a long time to come (Chapter14)

Tom then considers the case of a man who is on his way to his execution.  The man has been sentenced to the barbaric and horrifically painful process of being boiled to death in increments, and he begs Tom to commute his sentence to hanging, which is much quicker and more humane.  Tom listens to the man's story, and decides that the man has been unjustly accused of the crime for which he is being executed, and pardons him altogether.

In a like manner, he intercedes in the case of a woman and her daughter who have been condemned for allegedly dealing in black magic.  Tom wisely tells the woman that if she will show him her magic, he will let her daughter go free.  As he expected, she cannot do what he asks, even to achieve her daughter's freedom, proving that she is not a witch.  Having exposed the wrongness of their convictions, Tom spares both the woman and her daughter from their sentences of death (Chapter 15).

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