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 Edward show pride in The Prince and the Pauper?

Expert Answers

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In The Prince and the Pauper, Edward first meets Tom when he sees a soldier snatch him away from the gate and exclaims:

How dar’st thou use a poor lad like that? How dar’st thou use the King my father’s meanest subject so? Open the gates, and let him in!

Although Edward is partly motivated by concern for Tom, this is also a display of pride, characterizing Tom as a subject rather than as a person in his own right.

Edward then proceeds to interrogate Tom, in another show of pride, asking him personal questions and calling him "lad," even though they are the same age. He asks in a peremptory manner whether Tom has any parents, as though the pauper were a member of a different species.

It is when he is dressed as Tom that the prince's pride comes to seem truly incongruous and is regularly challenged for his arrogant attitude, first by the guard he initially rebuked for treating Tom roughly. Edward tells the guard,

I am the Prince of Wales, my person is sacred; and thou shalt hang for laying thy hand upon me!

Edward's notion that he is under special divine protection is quickly dispelled, but he continues to treat those around him with great arrogance, telling them that everything they have comes from his father, as when he speaks to a group of poor boys who insult him:

I am the prince; and it ill beseemeth you that feed upon the king my father’s bounty to use me so.

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