In The Prince and the Pauper, why is the author's purpose entertainment?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is little doubt that laughter is a lasting memory for many. Still, when readers are entertained, they often come away with more than this memory of having laughed. For, Mark Twain's rich comedy often has an underlying depth of seriousness that acts as a residue, enlightening readers to his satire of society. This is the best kind of entertainment: the reader laughs and enjoys the narrative while at the same time, he/she recognizes that the jabs and laughable incidents reach to the roots of human nature.

Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, while entertaining, has introspective characters who bring into question the lack of touch that the wealthy and elite have with the common man. After the prince switches places with pauper Tom Canty, and he is mistakenly cast outside the gates of the palace, his new education in life begins. Thus, Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper," while being an entertaining tale of switched identities, is also a social commentary as the prince, reduced to being treated as a menial person, comes to realize some of the injustices of his kingdom. So, when he finally is restored as the rightful prince, Edward is greatly changed.

As long as the king lived he was fond of telling the story of his adventures, all through,....He said that the frequent rehearsing of the precious lesson kept him strong in his purpose to make its teachings yield benefits to his people...and thus keep its sorrowful spectacles fresh in his memory and the springs of pity replenished in his heart.

Twain's novel exhibits his interest in boys and the inequities in society, but it does so in the charming fairy tale genre.

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The Prince and the Pauper

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