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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Prince and the Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain


This story is one of my favorites during childhood and recently I got curious on what the original material was like. It didn't exactly meet my expectations though, but it had been pretty impressive. It's certainly a wonderful story!

Rating: B- NICE! It had been really fun!
Favoritism: 3 out of 5 hearts = LIKE
The story concerns Tom Canty, a poor boy, who bears a striking resemblance to Prince Edward, heir to the throne of England. Through a series of mishaps, the boys change places, and those around them do not believe them when they each claim to be the other boy. Eventually, all ends well, with Edward restored to the throne and Tom retaining a place in his court. (School Library Journal)

I've seen an animation and a movie adaptation of this story when I was a kid, and I remember loving them very much. I have always been curious on what the original classic was like, but I got lazy to search for the book back then. And even if I know that it's available for reading on the internet for free, I don't like reading on the computer screen and I would also like to avoid wasting ink and paper. I'd rather read stories as a book or in any form as long as it's a hardcopy. So when I spotted a copy of this classic on sale a few months ago, I bought it at once and read it as soon as possible.

You know, even if it seems to be aimed for young audiences, I find it pretty difficult to read. Yes, it's because of the Old English dialogues. I had to reread their lines to get what they were saying. There were also a lot of unfamiliar terms. But thankfully, there were notes and guides at the back of the book that I bought. Those had really helped me in understanding what's going on.

Now that I've finished it . . . I still consider it a nice book but I can't say that it had been brilliant, storywise. When the two main characters have switched roles, they actually had no plans to pretend as the other person. They already revealed their real identities once they've interacted with other people. If that's the case, what's the purpose or where's the thrill on the role exchange plan then? I also find it strange that they still didn't figure out that Tom can't be the prince with those scars and wounds on his body; and with Edward being so clean to be an abused pauper. And is everyone, aside from those innocent children, that closeminded that they won't bother to investigate further after concluding that Edward and Tom had been insane? Also, why does Edward need rescuing all the time? Didn't he have fencing lessons? And why can't Tom simply make an order to search for Edward? Doesn't he have such a high authority to do so even if he's considered crazy? There had been so many ways to resolve the problem quicker, but it just had to purposely go opposite the path just to make the story seem long. The hell . . .

In other words, the overall story is actually good, but how things are narrated hadn't been that impressive, in my opinion. Not to mention that there are some things that are pretty bothersome, like Miles' protectiveness over Edward . . . it's somewhat . . . disurbing.

Character development on the main characters (Edward, Tom, and Miles) had been alright, but the rest lacked of it. Some didn't get development at all, especially the villains for the just acted like bad guys from beginning to end without thinking and only had the idea of torturing-the-main-characters-and-act-totally-evil instilled in their heads. I also think that development on character interaction hadn't been done so well either. I find it odd that Miles was already so bonded to Edward in an extremely short period of time just because he pities the boy and he enjoys humoring him. I also think it might have been better if Edward and Tom had been friends for a while first before deciding to switch roles.

Despite all those flaws that bother me, this book also had a lot of strong points, especially on the theme. It opens your eyes to the dark side of society, where there is injustice and poverty. Not everyone gets to live harmoniously and is treated fairly. I greatly admire how Edward responded to such a reality. Instead of being disgusted with the urban poor or calling them devils for their bad or informal behavior, he pitied them and wanted to help them through proper education and adequate food. In other words he wanted to improve their lives instead of punishing them. I hope more wealthy people or officials in high positions think that way.

I also like it that none of the two sides of society (rich and poor) have a completely happy nor a completely lonely life style. Edward might've had so many servants do things for him and get to eat well and sleep comfortably, but he has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders, there are high expectations of him, and he never gets to play outside the palace like normal boys. And though Tom had so many hardships for he doesn't have much to eat, nor does he have decent clothes, and he's even being beaten up by his father, he gets to enjoy festivals and play with friends. They have switched roles to enjoy the fun side of the other's lifestyle, but later they realize that there really isn't any place like home.

I've also begun to understand why this is certainly a novel for youth, because the story is about the adventures of young boys. There are dark sides though, but there had been fun ones too, especially towards the end. It was classic. Haha! I also find it amusing that the reason why the prince seemed to have been so convinced to try to pretend as Tom because when Tom told him what his life was like, he only mentioned the good parts! Haha!

None of the characters had been that appealing for me, except for Edward. He had been a good lad, even for someone who never really had physical hardships in life. I'm glad that the story didn't end up as a huge tragedy. It wasn't exactly a "happily ever after" ending, but it had been a nice one.

Overall this had been a good story, but I think it's more enjoyable as a movie or a series. My complains are more on development anyway, so rushing those would be totally excusable in a movie; while a series could make up for the lack in development. I also think it'll be good if there will be some changes made. It's not exactly the story's the problem, in my opinion, just how it was narrated.
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