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Study Guide: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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FREE STUDY GUIDE: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT

CONFLICT

Protagonist

Hank Morgan, the “Connecticut Yankee”, is the hero of the novel. He is a nineteenth century jack-of-all-trades who is miraculously transported back to the sixth century time of Camelot and King Arthur. With his superior intellect and scientific knowledge, he transforms the medieval age into a model of nineteenth century industry and progress.


Antagonist

The Boss faces opposition at two levels, the individual and the social. Merlin is the primary individual opponent of The Boss, although others at times oppose him in his quest to modernize and industrialize Camelot. These others include people who are at first friends: Launcelot and Marco, for example. On the social level, the Orthodox Catholic Church and its superstitious followers antagonize and oppose The Boss. The church and the priests fear revolutionary ideas and scientific knowledge presented by The Boss because those beliefs pose a great threat to the supremacy of the church leaders. Merlin and the church represent the status quo, and The Boss represents the forces of change. As such, they are pitted against one another throughout the novel.

Climax

When Boss leaves Camelot, after his daughter falls ill, Sir Launcelot manipulates the stocks and antagonizes the other knights. He also angers the King by having an affair with the Queen. The war that ensues retards the progress of Camelot and destroys the inventions of the Boss. The church steps in and resumes control of the state. All the efforts to modernize Camelot are destroyed. In addition to these dramatic social developments, Merlin casts a spell on The Boss in the midst of the crisis and causes him to sleep well into the nineteenth century.

Outcome

The Boss wakes in nineteenth century England after having spent several years fighting to modernize the sixth century and criticizing a backward civilization. He finds Mark Twain, tells his story both verbally and on paper, and dies with a final wish to return to that backward time and place he realizes he loves dearly.


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