Do you think Prince Brat is a truly horrible child or are there reasons for his bad behavior?
Prince Brat is a horribly entitled child, probably because he has been raised to know that nobody is allowed to punish him for anything. He is also very disrespectful and rude. However the majority of his behavior is intended to attract his father's attention as he feels that negative attention is better than no attention at all. Because he spends so much time with people whose job it is to be around him he feels like the King barely notices him and that is why his high jinks get more and more excessive culminating in actually running away.
Why does having a whipping boy encourage the Prince to behave badly?
The idea of a whipping boy is that it punishes a deed without physically punishing the Prince himself, and it assumes that he will feel so guilty that another boy is being punished in his place that he will improve his behavior right away. Unfortunately, whilst this idea might sound workable in theory, it doesn't allow for the fact that Prince Brat does not feel remotely guilty for Jemmy's whipping and actually misbehaves on purpose because he is frustrated that Jemmy never cries during his whipping and wants to make him do so. This is why using a whipping boy has the opposite effect from what was intended as the Prince knows he can do whatever he likes without having to suffer any consequences at all.
How does Jemmy's life prior to living at the palace help him during the boys' adventure?
Jemmy is quick-witted and resourceful and also street-smart. This makes him aware of his surroundings which in turn allows him to see danger before it reaches them. Being a rat-catcher's son, he is experienced in traversing the sewers and familiar with their layout which enables him to find safe hiding places from the highwaymen, and his knowledge of where the rats are allows him to use them to escape. His familiarity with travelling carnivals and fairs also helps him find places of safety where they will not be threatened.
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