The Prince and the Pauper Questions and Answers
by Mark Twain

The Prince and the Pauper book cover
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What are the moral lessons of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper?

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think different readers will see different moral lessons from Mark Twain's The Prince and the PauperVarious readers will see different lessons because of individual backgrounds, but I do believe the book portrays some universal morals to readers.

One moral lesson of the book is not to make initial snap judgments about people based on rudimentary, surface-level knowledge. The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" is a good synopsis for this concept. Both Tom and Edward believe the other boy is a certain way and has certain advantages, but after they switch places, both boys realize their initial notions were incorrect. This kind of moral lesson shouldn't only be applied to socioeconomic status, either. It could be applied to religions, ethnicities, and political affiliations.

Another moral lesson found in the book is the same moral lesson Spiderman's uncle teaches him. Peter Parker's uncle famously told Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility." That's exactly what Edward learns over the course of the novel. Between Edward and Tom, Edward is the more dynamic character because he changes from being rude, obnoxious, and selfish into being much more selfless and humble. Once he finally gets his original place back, he uses his power for good instead of selfish gain.

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mark Twain himself would probably have been quite uncomfortable about the notion of drawing simplistic moral lessons from the story. In certain ways, this work satirizes concepts of both the inherent nobility of the poor and of the rich, and avoids...

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