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

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Student Question

How does the setting influence the main conflict in The Prince and the Pauper?

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Mark Twain's social satire, The Prince and the Pauper presents both Edward Tudor and Tom Canty as alike in many ways. However, they both conflict with the societies in which they are thrust.  That is, the novel can be evaluated as a attack upon England's aristocratic society where position is of such importance.  For, in sixteenth-century there were many, many impoverished people, whom Tom Canty represents.

After the boys change places, little Edward discovers how difficult life is for the boy who eats that which others throw out. He also comes to learn the harshness of English law.  Likewise Tom finds that being royalty is not such an easy occupation, either.  For he encounters political subterfuge in the making.  However, Tom is somewhat equipped as he has played the role of prince before in his mock royal court while Edward must endure the prison of Offal Court while the others frolic.

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