illustration of the prince and the pauper standing back to back with a castle on the prince's side and a low building on the pauper's

The Prince and the Pauper

by Mark Twain

Start Free Trial

In The Prince and the Pauper, how do Edward and Tom adjust to their new lives?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom the pauper and Prince Edward have completely different backgrounds. They were both born on the same day and even resembled each other, but Tom was not wanted by his family while Edward was the much awaited prince. Tom accepted his way of life because he knew of no other way, until Father Andrew opened him up to the different side, so much that Tom began to wish for better. Prince Edward, on the other hand, had issues of his own, and although he had a comfortable lifestyle he lacked the freedom to enjoy his life like Tom did. Tom and Edward met and shortly exchanged clothes which led to Edward being mistaken for Tom, and chased from the royal palace in spite of his resistance.

Tom had problems settling into the royal life although it was the type of lifestyle that he desired after reading Father Andrew’s books. However, he made an effort to learn the ways of the royal court and to fit in. Edward never got to settle in the life of being a pauper and had a hard time fitting in the society. He only survived because Miles chose to pretend to acknowledge his royal status. However, he noted the problems that his subjects were going through and resolved to look into their plight once he was back in the royal court.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Tom Canty (the pauper) and Prince Edward both lead different lives, although they look alike and are born on the same day. Tom is a pauper in London's slums while Edward is a prince. Generally, the author shows the two boys having to deal with hardships regardless of their location and their status. However, the two use different approaches to cope with these hardships.

The lives of the two change on the day they exchange clothes with each other. Tom ends up being in the palace while Edward must now endure the hardships of the street life.

Tom must do everything he can to convince everyone that he is the real Edward. However, in his role as the fake prince, he finds court life to be dull and vexing, even though he tasted a hard life in Offal Court with his father. He has sudden good fortune but must cope with being around servants. Although he generally likes life at the palace, he misses his freedom and family. He does not blame his current status on Edward and is sympathetic and good. He learns that while everyone wants to be in such a good place, it is not bad at all to have free time to oneself. As a once independent boy, he has to endure the crowd around him. Unlike Tom, he has learned that he would not like to be a noble, given the constraints and challenges that come with it.  

Edward, the right and long-awaited heir of the English throne, hates life in the street and resolves to change things if he gets a chance to return to the throne. Like Tom, he is in this type of life because of an unplanned occurrence. He is experiencing what many poor people have to cope with daily, and at one time nearly dies. He regrets the decision to exchange clothes with Tom and thinks Tom had impersonated him. The writer thus tries to show that he is blaming the misfortune on Tom. Even people around him are shocked with his revelations about his true identity. He is generally a good boy like Tom, and although his innocence and ignorance make people think he is mad, it saves him. Edward, an intelligent boy, was used to a life of dependency and so is unable to fight like an independent person like Tom would.    

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team