The Prince and The Pauper Essay Review

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~All Copyright stuff goes to Mark Twain the original writer of The rince and The Pauper this is only a review essay about Lawerence Kolheberg's stages of moral delevoment.Here's a link to find out more about the seven stages from 0-6 ~

Lawrence Kohlberg believed there were seven stages of moral development and built his theories around these beliefs.  Kohlberg pictured these stages of development to be like stairs that individuals needed to climb in order to achieve strong moral character. He also recognized that each and every person may not progress through all of the stages. In the novel “The Prince and the Pauper” written by Mark Twain, the characters represent the various stages of moral development.  The following essay will outline the seven stages of moral development; Premoral, Simple Authority Orientation, Instrumental Relativist, Interpersonal Concordance, Law and Order, Social Contract and Ethical Principle and demonstrate how the characteristics of these principles relate to the main characters presented in this novel. Every person is in a stage of moral development.  

            Stage Zero is best exemplified by the character John Canty, found in the novel “The Prince and the Pauper”.  Stage Zero of Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development is termed “Premoral”. This stage represents “freedom from pain”. This means that individuals found within this stage look for what is pleasant and avoid what is unpleasant. They have no sense of what is right or wrong and have no moral standards.  John Canty represents Stage Zero of moral development because he thinks only of his own desires and cares little for other people’s feelings. In the novel John Canty drinks and gambles away what little money his family has to their names (pg. 11) He never seems to care that he is to blame for the fact that they can barely afford the two cents worth of rent they pay twice a year. This is a good example of why John Canty is amoral, not immoral. Another example of John Canty having “no sense of obligation or morality”  is shown when he beats his son; “ a sound blow upon the Prince’s shoulder from Canty’s broad palm, sent him staggering into good wife Canty’s arms” (pg. 52).  This shows that he isn’t concerned about the wellbeing of his family or about treating them with respect and kindness. John Canty only cares about himself.  Clearly, John Canty’s character represents Stage Zero in Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development.

            Stage one is epitomized by the characters Nan and Bet Canty in the enlightening novel "The Prince and The Pauper." Stage One, the simple authority orientation, is the stage of moral development where individuals follow an obedience and punishment orientation, constantly deferring to their superior power. The characters Nan and Bet are twins that attempt to follow their mother’s brave actions, yet are too fearful of their father to really take a stand. Throughout the novel, the reader sees Nan and Bet try to defend their brother just as their mother does; however it always results in them cowering away in fear. For example when Prince Edward, who was still believed to be Tom Canty, tries to convince his “father” that he is indeed the Prince, John Canty “delivers a sounding blow upon the prince’s shoulder” (Twain, page 52) and continued to beat him. Nan and Bet distressed at this scene “began to plead timidly for their brother” (Twain, page 52). The fact that they pleaded timidly shows that although they are concerned for their brother, they are more concerned with their own personal safety. They know that if they beg too loudly, their father’s wrath will turn on them. Another example of their deference to their authority figure is shown when their mother jumps in front of the Prince to protect him from John Canty and the girls hide in the corner (pg. 52). Although they don’t like what their father is doing they allow him to continue because they care about their own personal safety and because they allow their “superior power” to rule. Clearly the twins’ lack of ability to go against their father’s power and their deep fear for their own safety shows that they are in stage one of Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory.

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