The Prince and the Pauper By Mark Twain Summary and Analysis Chapters 28-29

Summary

Miles is growing impatient with his confinement as the day of his sentencing finally arrives. He has to sit two hours in the pillory, while the king is almost condemned to the stocks for keeping such bad company. Edward is dismissed with only a lecture, however; but when he sees Hendon in such a humiliating position, he begins once again to assert his royal indignation. Hendon tells the guard to "mind him not . . . he is mad." Sir Hugh then suggests that the little rascal be given half a dozen lashes for being so impertinent. Edward is seized and suddenly decides to take a beating rather than beg for mercy; it would be unseemly for nobility to beg. Hendon, however, asks that he might be allowed to take the lashes and, consequently, he is removed from the pillory and is given twelve lashes.

Edward responds deeply to this sacrifice in his behalf — not only because Hendon saves him from pain, but also because Hendon saves "the royal person" from shame. After the beating, the young king comes to Hendon and dubs him an earl. Hendon is touched but muses that if "this goes on, I shall presently be hung like a very maypole with fantastic gauds and make-believe honors. But I shall value them, all valueless as they are, for the love that doth bestow them."

After Miles's punishment, he is ordered to leave the land, and he wonders how he can ever gain redress for all the injustices perpetrated against him. It is then that he remembers that old Andrews gave him reports concerning "the young king's goodness and his generous championship of the wronged and unfortunate." The question, however, is this: How can a pauper gain an interview with a prince or a monarch? Hendon also remembers that his father's old friend, Sir Humphrey Marlow, might be able to help. But the most important matter concerns poor young Edward. Miles fears that life in London might cause his madness to increase. Yet when Hendon inquires of Edward where they should go, the king answers, "To London!" and off they go, making the entire journey without incident. They arrive on the eve of Coronation Day and find a great deal of celebrating going on. Unfortunately, during the celebrating Hendon and Edward become hopelessly separated from one another.

Analysis

In Chapter 28, when Sir Hugh orders that the young king be given some lashes and the boy is seized, note that the boy decides that it is more befitting his royal status to accept the beating than to beg for mercy; no English king has ever begged for anything. Through his study of history, Edward should have known that Henry II requested and accepted a lashing on the steps of Canterbury for a rash remark he had made, which in turn cost the life of another man (Thomas ˆ Becket). But Twain's point is dear: The young king possesses those qualities that will make him a good monarch, despite his faulty knowledge of English history.

Furthermore, when Hendon volunteers to take the lashes (which are doubled) upon his own back, we should remember that Hendon still considers the young king to be a mad young lad who might not be able to withstand the severity of the lashing. After all, earlier, while they were in prison, Hendon made sure that the young king got the choice morsels of the food they were given to eat. Many people might volunteer to be beaten so as to impress a king, but Miles Hendon does it not for the king, but for the sake of a young lad whom he cares deeply for. As a result, the young king understands that Miles Hendon saves him not merely from physical pain, but also from shame and, as a result, he raises Miles to the rank of an earl.

In Chapter 30, Miles Hendon, who is certainly a victim of injustice and who has heard that the new king is correcting all sorts of injustices, decides that he will try to arrange an audience with the king. The main problem, however, is this: How can a pauper gain admission to see a king? Twain is drawing his plot to an end by bringing all of the principals to the coronation in England. Edward, of course, is anxious to go, but there is a bit more of Twain's plot to develop before the final unraveling: Young Edward and Miles Hendon are separated in the crowd as it gathers for the coronation, and in the midst of all this confusion, it seems doubtful if they will ever see one another again.

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About whom did a crowd chant, "Be gracious to us, O sweet king! / "Trample not upon thy beseeching worms, O noble majesty!" / "Pity thy slaves, and comfort them with a royal kick!"




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