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The Prince and the Pauper Discussion Questions

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Are you searching for discussion questions related to 'The Prince and the Pauper' by Mark Twain? Your 6th-12th graders will be aided as they delve further into all the subtle convolutions that make the novel so intriguing.

The Prince and the Pauper

Mehmet Murat Ildan once blazoned 'An arrogant rich and a humble poor both need help! The former needs help to be human; the latter needs help to live humanely!' Perhaps no story better personifies those words than the allegorical tale The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. Studying this novel will benefit your 6th through 12th grade students, as they learn that 'the grass isn't always greener on the other side', and to empathize with the plight of your fellow human beings is a virtuous trait.

Questions About the Plot

  • How are the two main characters depicted in the introduction of the novel?
  • How would you summarize the circumstances of Tom meeting Edward?
  • In what ways do the two boys struggle to assume their new identities?
  • What etiquette mistakes does Tom make during his first formal dinner?
    • What did the two lords discuss about his possible mental condition?
  • How did the arrival of Miles avert a situation in which the mad hermit was about to stab Edward?
  • How would you analyze the time that Edward spent in prison?
  • What happened during the climax of the tale, while Tom was being crowned the King of England?
  • Why did the halberdiers stop Miles when he tried to return and visit Edward at the palace?
  • How was the story wrapped up in the resolution?
    • What became of Edward, Tom, and the other main characters?

Questions About the Themes

  • Erik Erikson once wrote about the stage of 'identity versus role confusion', and the concept of an 'identity crisis' as well.
    • In what ways did the two boys wrestled with who they were?
      • How did the time they spent being someone else eventually help define who they were?
  • What do you think about the way the novel emphasized the importance of family in a person's life?
  • How would you juxtapose the rewards and injustices experienced by the rich in the story, as opposed to the rewards and injustices experienced by the poor in the story?
  • Shakespeare once wrote 'all that glitters is not gold.' How could you relate that quote to the way the two boys were treated based on their appearance?
  • How did the story depict the ways in which rumors and hearsay, such as both boys being mentally ill, can spread quickly throughout a population?
  • How did the story collocate the innate good nature of children against the fearful suspicion of adults?
  • How would you present the 'Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows' that Miles felt was Edward's world?
  • How would you describe the way the servants saw Tom as he tried to adjust to his new world?
  • Sophie Tucker once said 'I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better.' How did the story present the unfairness of society and class? What were some examples of when it was difficult to be rich? What were some examples of when it was difficult to be poor?
  • It has been said 'things aren't always what they seem.' How does that quote apply to the storyline?
  • How does the quote 'truth is stranger than fiction' apply to what occurred in the lives of the two boys?
  • Why do rich people get so much more respect than poor people? What are some modern-day examples in which rich and poor people do or don't deserve respect?

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