Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*England. The novel can be read as an attack on England’s monarchical institutions and hereditary privilege. The book depicts mid-sixteenth century England as a grim place in which most people live hard lives under cruel and unjust laws and heedless rulers. The novel forces Edward, Prince of Wales, to live among his meanest subjects; after he is restored to rightful position, he is moved to liberalize England’s laws.
*London. The principal setting for about half the novel, England’s capital city is depicted as existing in two worlds: the unending want of life in places such as Offal Court and the unlimited plenty of the royal court. The pauper boy, Tom Canty, though wise beyond his years, knows nothing about the London outside his slum until the day he wanders to Westminster Palace. Meanwhile, Prince Edward is equally ignorant of the London outside his palace until the accident that causes him to switch places with Tom.
*London Bridge. A hive of shops, inns, and homes, the oldest bridge across the Thames is a microcosm of London whose denizens include some people who have never even set foot ashore. Touching the river’s north bank near Offal Court, the bridge is the place where John Canty instructs his family to gather after he kills a priest and has to flee London. Prince Edward’s champion, Miles Hendon, takes lodgings on the bridge, which is...
(The entire section is 1530 words.)
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Baetzhold, Howard G. Mark Twain and John Bull. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970. Includes a twenty-page chapter that documents Mark Twain’s British sources for historical details in the novel.
Cummings, Sherwood. Mark Twain and Science: Adventures of a Mind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. Cummings examines the often overlooked influence of Mark Twain’s reading of French history on many details in the novel. Summarizes the novel’s flaws, but notes that an important theme in the work is the power of training.
Rasmussen, R. Kent. Mark Twain A to Z. New York: Facts On File, 1995. An indispensable reference on Mark Twain’s life and works. Contains a detailed analytical plot synopsis, background and publishing history, essays on major characters and places, and other topics, including dramatic adaptations of The Prince and the Pauper.
Stahl, John Daniel. “American Myth in European Disguise: Fathers and Sons in The Prince and the Pauper.” American Literature 58, no. 2 (May, 1986): 203-216. Analyzes symbolic father-son relationships in the novel. Notes similarities to other orphaned sons in Twain’s works.
Twain, Mark. The Prince and the Pauper. Edited by Victor Fischer and Lin Salamo. Berkeley: University of...
(The entire section is 235 words.)