The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty-One – Vocabulary

In addition to the word hermit, today’s vocabulary word is also very important to understanding our main antagonist in Chapters 20 and 21. Our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 21 is…


Keep reading or watch the video below see how the word ‘archangel’ is used in The Prince and the Pauper.



(n.) a head messenger from God to people

Many faiths feature angels

supernatural being

evil one
fallen angel


  • Language of Origin: Greek
  • arkhangelos = “chief angel”

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: Archangels in art are often shown as being very strong and masculine.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “‘It is a secret—mark thou reveal it not. I am an archangel!’” (p. 134)
  • Other forms: archangelic (adj)

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty – Fun Fact

Have you ever tied a string around your finger in order to remember something? According to some, the act of having that constant reminder on your finger helps you to remember things. This same general idea relates to today’s Fun Fact as well. The Fun Fact for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 20 focuses on…


Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“‘Thou shalt wear a hair shirt next thy skin; thou shalt drink water only; and thou shalt be at peace; yes, wholly at peace; for whoso comes to seek thee shall go his way again, baffled; he shall not find thee, he shall not molest thee.‘” (p. 127) 

In this scene, the hermit is telling Edward all about what his time is going to be like while staying at his hut. As part of his speech, he mentions that Edward will wear a “hair shirt” next to thy skin.

What is a hair shirt?

  • A shirt made from rough, uncomfortable cloth
    • Usually goat’s hair
  • Some religious people wear this to punish themselves
    • Called mortification or penance
  • Called cilicium in Latin
  • Helped the wearer to resist temptations and served to discourage outward luxury and comfort in life
  • Some included a bit of spiked metal

Metaphorical Meaning

If you say that someone is wearing a hair shirt, you mean that they are trying to punish themselves to show they are sorry for something they have done.
Example sentence: No one is asking you to put on a hair shirt and give up all your luxuries.

Other Fun Facts

  • Earliest hairshirts were probably the sackcloths mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible
  • Have been worn by clergy, monks, nuns, friars and lay people in history
  • They are still used today – altar cloths during Lent
  • In the Game of Thrones books and movies, people of various fictional faiths wear them

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty – Historical Tidbit

In Chapter 20 we get a reference to a historical event that is extremely important to the hermit’s storyline. As the chapter goes along he becomes enraged by Edward’s presence after he realizes he is the son of Henry VIII. But what is the source of his rage? Today’s Historical Tidbit for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 20 is about…


Keep reading or watch the video below to learn about this famous event.

In Chapter 20, Edward discovers the hermit in the woods. As they get to talking, the hermit starts to reveal more about himself and why he is living alone in the woods. The quote below shows several of his revelations.

“ ‘Yes, I am an archangel; a mere archangel!—I that might have been pope!  It is verily true.  I was told it from heaven in a dream, twenty years ago; ah, yes, I was to be pope!—and I should have been pope, for Heaven had said it—but the King dissolved my religious house, and I, poor obscure unfriended monk, was cast homeless upon the world, robbed of my mighty destiny!’ ”  (p. 128)

What was the Dissolution of the monasteries?

  • Dissolution = the conclusion or end
  • Monasteries = buildings occupied by religious monks
  • Monk = a member of a religious community (usually of men)
    • Can be from many religions – in this case we’re talking about Catholic monks

When Henry VIII wanted to divorce his first wife (discussed in some of our previous posts) he went to the pope and was denied. As a result, he guided England away from the Catholic church and instead created his own church — The Church of England. In order to truly take away the Catholic church’s power in England, he enacted The Act of Suppression in 1536. Under this act, small monasteries with an income of less than £200 per year were closed and their land went to the Crown.

In 1539 there was another act called the Second Suppression Act. This allowed Henry to disolve larger monasteries as well. The lands that were taken from the church were then sold to families who supported Henry and the Church of England. As a result, thousands of monks were homeless and unemployed.

Little Jack Horner

  • Nursery rhyme believed to be connected to the Dissolution of the Monasteries

“Little Jack Horner

Sat in the corner,

Eating a Christmas pie;

He put in his thumb,

And pulled out a plum,

And said ‘What a good boy am I!”

  • Thomas Horner worked for an abbey
  • He was sent to London with a Christmas pie containing the deeds to a dozen large properties.
  • He opened the pie on his way to London.
  • He took out the deed to the manor of Mells in Somerset.
  • The properties included lead mines.
  • It is suggested that in the nursery rhyme when he “pulls out a plum” it is a play on Latin word plumbum which means lead.
  • Thomas Horner did become owner of this manor, but there is no proof that this story is real.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Twenty – Vocabulary

Have you heard of a hermit crab? Do you know how they got their name? It’s because they will often avoid threats or other things by withdrawing into their shell. Just like our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 20…


Keep reading or watch the video below see how the word ‘hermit’ is used in The Prince and the Pauper.



(n.) someone who isolates themselves

Often done for religious reasons

Emily Dickinson (sort of…)

social butterfly


  • Language of Origin: Greek
  • erēmia (desert), from erēmos (desolate)

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The man decided to become a hermit after he decided he disagreed with the laws.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “A black frown settled down upon the hermit’s face, and he clenched his bony hands with a vindictive energy.” (p. 129)
  • Other forms: hermitic (adj.), hermitically (adv.), hermitry (n.)

Famous Hermits

  • The Hermit of Gully Lake – William Kitchener Macdonald jumped from a moving troop train to get out of WWII
  • Masafumi Nagasaki- lives on Sotobanari Island (Japan)
  • Agafya Lykov- Fundamentalist of the Russian Orthodox church; fled when Stalin swore to purge all religions
  • Saint Hildegard of Bingen- offered to the church by her family

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nineteen – Fun Fact

Do you believe in bad omens? What about good ones? Many people believe that horseshoes, the number 13, or double rainbows are signs of good fortune. Today’s Fun Fact for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 19 focuses on…


Keep reading or watch the video below for more information.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“‘Poor fool, why so fearful?  I am as forlorn as thou.  ’Twould be a sham in me to hurt the helpless, who am myself so helpless.  Moreover, I owe you thanks for a good omen; for when a king has fallen so low that the very rats do make a bed of him, it surely meaneth that his fortunes be upon the turn, since it is plain he can no lower go.‘” (p. 119)

This scene shows Edward waking up after a night of sleeping in a barn only to discover a rat has used him as a bed. Instead of being terrified or disgusted, he sees the rat as a good omen because things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Four-Leaf Clovers

  • Ancient Ireland
  • Celts believed they could help them see fairies in order to avoid their mischief
  • Many types of clovers grow four leaves
  • The lucky ones are a mutation of the white clover plant (only have three leaves normally)
  • True four-leaf clovers are rare (1 in 10,000)

Lucky Bamboo

  • China
  • Not actually bamboo; close relative called Dracaena
  • One of the luckiest plants in feng shui
  • Many types of clovers grow four leaves
  • Represents good fortune
  • The more stalks it has, the more luck it brings


  • Multiple cultures
  • In German-speaking cultures its name (Glueckskaefer) translates to “lucky bugs” 
  • Some say if one lands on you it’s lucky
  • Others say if a man and a woman see one at the same time they fall in love
  • Number of spots indicates how many children a woman could have
  • Killing a ladybug can bring misfortune


  • Norse Culture (Vikings)
  • Believed they protected people from Thor’s wrath (lightning god)
  • Would place acorn on windowsill
  • Believed it would protect their house from being struck by lightning


  • Africa
  • Some tribes believe these will grant them good luck
  • Especially when gambling
  • Modern-day surfers will sometimes wear these for protection

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nineteen – Historical Tidbit

Chapter 19 mentions a specific historical figure. But in typical Mark Twain fashion, he gives virtually no explanation about who the figure is. He just assumes all the readers understand his allusion. So let’s explore it today! The Historical Tidbit is about….


Keep reading or watch the video below to learn about this semi-famous king.

In Chapter 19, Edward is found hiding in a barn by two little girls. They bring him into their home and their mother feels bad and feeds him. She also becomes obsessed with finding out who he is and where he comes from. Eventually she comes to the conclusion that he is a cook, and therefore asks him to look after the food for her for a while. The following quote shows Edward’s reaction to this request.

“‘Another English king had a commission like to this, in a bygone time—it is nothing against my dignity to undertake an office which the great Alfred stooped to assume. But I will try to better serve my trust than he; for he let the cakes burn.’” (p. 122)

Who was King Alfred?

  • “Alfred the Great”, King of Wessex
  • Born in 849 AD
  • King from 871 to 899
  • Defended against a Danish Viking invasion

King Alfred and the Cakes

As the story goes, during the Viking invasion, Alfred was on the run. He hid in a peasant woman’s house (the wife of a herdsman/swineherd). She didn’t recognize that he was the king. While she is cooking some cakes (small loaves of bread) in the embers of the fire, she asks Alfred to watch them while she goes to grab something. While he is in charge of the food he gets distracted (or in some versions falls asleep). The woman returns and scolds him for failing at the task, again obviously not realizing that he was the king.

Is the story true?

Most likely, this story is made up. The earliest written examples of the story wasn’t around until 300 years after the actual event supposedly would have happened. Some people question whether or not the story is just a legend, because they claim there is no lesson behind the story. What would be the point in telling this made-up tale if there wasn’t a moral to it? Other critics claim that the story is inaccurate because they weren’t actually cakes that burned, they were loaves. In any case, the story was probably passed down by word-of-mouth for many years, and probably changed from the original, if it even happened at all.

Is the story true?

Most homes at this time didn’t have ovens, so people relied on bakers to make their bread and other baked goods. However, in the countryside some people did not have the luxury of a baker nearby. So instead, they would bake their own cakes in their fires. Since equipment like cast iron skillets were expensive, people would just bake their cakes right on the embers of the fire. The end goal was for the outside of the cake to be scorched, but the inside to be warm and fluffy. Clearly Alfred did not achieve the desired outcome for his cakes.

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Nineteen – Vocabulary

Today’s word is very common. It is often used in novels both old and new, as well as in casual conversation. It’s even used in famously-quoted movie lines! Our vocab word for The Prince and the Pauper Chapter 19 is…


Keep reading or watch the video below see how the word ‘pity’ is used in The Prince and the Pauper.



(n.) a feeling of sympathy for someone suffering

generally has more of negative connotation than other synonyms




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • Pietatem = “piety, loyalty, duty”

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The townspeople took pity on the family whose house burned down.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “The children’s mother received the King kindly, and was full of pity; for his forlorn condition and apparently crazed intellect touched her womanly heart.” (p. 121)
  • Other forms: pity (v.), piteous (adj.)

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We’ll be right back!

We’re taking a brief two-week vacation! Blog posts and videos will return Wednesday, July 7th. See you soon!

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The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eighteen – Current Event

Many people exaggerate their traits for personal gain. Some do this for love, some for fame, some for success, and others for pity. For today’s Current Event we explore an example of someone who was a victim of this type of person to the most extreme degree…

Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Keep reading or watch the video below to find out about this tragic story.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“‘Peace! Here comes one with a kindly face. Now will I fall down in a fit. When the stranger runs to me, set you up a wail, and fall upon your knees, seeming to weep; then cry out as all the devils of misery were in your belly, and say, ‘Oh, sir, it is my poor afflicted brother, and we be friendless; o’ God’s name cast through your merciful eyes one pitiful look upon a sick, forsaken, and most miserable wretch; bestow one little penny out of thy riches upon one smitten of God and ready to perish!’—and mind you, keep you on wailing, and abate not till we bilk him of his penny, else shall you rue it.’” (p. 113)

Here we see Hugo pretending to be sick/injured in order to gain pity (and money) from a stranger.

Munchausen Syndrome

  • Disorder where someone repeatedly and deliberately acts as if they have a physical or mental illness when they are not really sick
  • Considered a mental illness
  • Named for an 18th century Baron who was known for exaggerating stories about his own life
  • Munchausen by Proxy – when a caregiver makes up or causes an illness in a person under his/her care

Gypsy Rose Blanchard

  • Lived in Springfield, MO
  • Gypsy was in a wheelchair, had a feeding tube, carried an oxygen tube with her, as long as a number of other health disorders including leukemia (when she was a toddler)
  • Her mom took care of her and they were very close
  • As Gypsy grew up, her mom began to lie about her age
  • They received a lot of help from different organizations due to all Gypsy’s disorders
  • Gypsy started talking online, and began realizing her mom was lying about some of her conditions
  • In the end, she decided to get help to fight back, and it resulted in her mother’s death (and Gypsy’s imprisonment)

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References (Warning: Some explicit content) (Warning: Some explicit content),child%20abuse%20or%20elder%20abuse.

The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eighteen – Fun Fact

What’s a fear that almost everyone has when they are younger? Even as many people grow up, this fear continues to linger to some extent. Today’s Fun Fact for Ch. 18 is…


Keep reading or watch the video more information about why people fear the dark.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“Then, just as he was on the point of losing himself wholly, he distinctly felt something touch him! He was broad awake in a moment, and gasping for breath. The cold horror of that mysterious touch in the dark almost made his heart stand still.” (p. 116)

This quote comes from a scene where Edward is trying to sleep in a dark barn. But all of a sudden something brushes up against him and he is both immediately awake and paralyzed with fear. It turns out to be nothing more than a calf, but it takes Edward a while to build up the courage to find out what it was that actually brushed up against him in the dark. I’m sure many people would have reacted the same way as Edward if they were in that situation. Today we explore why people fear the dark.

What is the fear of the dark?

  • Nyctophobia- extreme fear of night or darkness
    • Can cause intense symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Often starts in childhood
    • Normal part of development
  • Humans often fear dark because of its lack of visual stimuli
    • Inability to see what’s around you

An evolutionary explanation?

  • Researchers hypothesize this is an innate fear
  • Our ancestors were on the lookout for predators
    • Many predators hunted at night
    • Our poor eyesight made us vulnerable
  • Feeling of fear or foreboding
  • Essentially the fear of the unknown

Physical Symptoms

  • trouble breathing
  • racing heart rate
  • chest tightness or pain
  • shaking, trembling, or tingling sensations
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • hot or cold flashes
  • sweating

Emotional Symptoms

  • overwhelming feelings of anxiety or panic
  • an intense need to escape the situation
  • detachment from self or feeling “unreal”
  • losing control or feeling crazy
  • feeling like you may die or lose consciousness
  • feeling powerless over your fear

Emotional Symptoms

  • Leaving a dark bedroom to sleep in a lit room
  • Exposure therapy- Expose yourself to the dark repeatedly until it no longer causes feelings of panic
  • Cognitive therapy- helps replace feelings of anxiety with more positive/realistic thoughts
  • Relaxation treatment- deep breathing and exercise
  • Medication- not always appropriate

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