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A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
Like most stories involving time travel and historical transcendence, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
takes liberties with geography and history. The novel makes use of both geographical and historical settings, framed
in one time and place and taking place primarily in another. Geographically, the novel opens and closes in and
around Warwick Castle, England. The Castle is a tourist spot, and the narrator Mark Twain presumably meets the
principal character, Hank Morgan, while sightseeing. Hank Morgan shares his story with the narrator in Warwick
Castle and a hotel room. The exterior frame of the novel (made up of the first and last chapters) takes place over a
period of a day and a half. Historically, this exterior frame is set in nineteenth century England.
The bulk of the novel, however, takes place in the historic Camelot of the
sixth century and in and around both the English countryside and Europe,
where Hank Morgan claims to have lived in the past. Camelot is an ancient
city with fortified castles, cozy inns, and verdant pastoral landscapes.
The people are primal in inventions, having few of the luxuries of nineteenth
century England. Camelot makes up the court of the historic King Arthur,
where chivalrous knights, damsels in distress, and poor subjects at the
mercy of the King and the Church dwell. The Orthodox Catholic Church makes
up the laws of the land and has established the “Divine right of Kings”.
The royalty live in luxury, while the common man struggles to make ends
meet. The protagonist of the novel, Hank Morgan, finds himself constantly
comparing this primal time and country to the recently industrialized
and technologically advanced one of the nineteenth century. The novel
is basically a juxtaposition of the old and the new, the pure and the
developed. Hank Morgan spends most of the novel trying to transform Camelot
into an advanced civilization, then spends the last moments of his life
wishing he could return to the purer time in the past.
The “Yankee” stranger who meets Mark Twain at Warwick Castle
and proceeds to tell his fantastic tale of having lived in Camelot, the
court of King Arthur in sixth century England. Morgan both tells his tale
and produces a manuscript to explain how he, a modern man of nineteenth
century England, came to live in the past and then was magically and unfortunately
returned to the present. In Camelot, he is known as The Boss.
In Camelot, he is The Boss’s right-hand man. Clarence is an enterprising
young boy of the sixth century who befriends Hank Morgan and learns all
the inventions and technologies of the future.
The famous king of Britain and the ruler of Camelot becomes the
companion of The Boss on many adventures.
The tourist-turned-narrator who meets Hank Morgan in Warwick
Castle and is given the manuscript of his adventures in Camelot. While
he is only a character in the first and last chapters, he is nonetheless
the narrator and the framing device for much of the novel’s structure
The magician of Camelot who holds sway over all the people, including
the King, until The Boss arrives and threatens his status.
The informal name of Demoiselle Alisande la Carteloise. She accompanies
The Boss on his errand to rescue the princesses from the clutches of three
ogres. Later, she marries him and has his child.
Sir Kay the Seneschal
The knight who first spots Hank Morgan in Camelot and brings
him to the court of King Arthur.
The most chivalrous and prominent of the Knights of the Round
Table, he is defeated by The Boss in a duel. Later, he instigates a war
with the Knights and the King.
The official joker of the court. His jokes are stale and crude.
Later, when he publishes the same jokes in a book, The Boss finds them
intolerable and has him hanged.
Sir Sagramour Desirous
The knight who goes in search of the Holy Grail. Before he leaves,
he challenges The Boss to a duel to be fought on his return.
Morgan Le Fay
The charming sister of Arthur and wife of King Orien. She is an
autocratic ruler of her kingdom reputed for her cruelty.
A charcoal burner. He plays the part of a good host when King
Arthur and The Boss seek asylum in his house. However, after observing
the eccentric behavior of his guests, he fears them and seeks the help
of the villagers in capturing them.
The boastful blacksmith whom The Boss befriends in the market
Grip, An Earl
He pretends to rescue The Boss and the King from the angry villagers
but sells them as slaves later.
King Arthur’s nephew. He fights on his uncle’s behalf and invites
the wrath of the Church.
He fights a duel with The Boss and gets wounded. Later, when
The Boss tries to help, Meliagruance stabs him.
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The infant daughter of The Boss and Sandy.
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