Study Guide: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court|
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FREE SUMMARY: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
Hank Morgan assumes that this magnificent place is an institute for insane people, since they are all so oddly dressed and since they stare at him open-mouthed and puzzled. When he encounters a man who looks sane, he makes inquiries about the head keeper of the asylum. The man looks puzzled and directs him to a boy. This boy, calling himself a page, informs Morgan that are all heading toward King Arthur’s court, in Camelot. Further, he tells Morgan the day is June 19, in the year 528 A.D. Morgan is startled but remembers from his own store of knowledge that a solar eclipse will happen in a couple of day, so he will wait for that as confirmation.
The boy tells Morgan that his master is named Sir Kay and that he will
punish Morgan for his insubordination. They enter the main chamber where
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are seated in conversation.
For diversion, the knights throw bones at dogs and enjoy watching the
animals fight over them. There are other prisoners in the room awaiting
trial and punishment.
Mark Twain’s irony sparkles when he reveals the attitude of the medieval men in contrast to that of nineteenth century Morgan. The inhabitants of Camelot are simple people who are astonished to spot an apparently refined man in their midst. Hank Morgan, for his part, thinks he is surrounded by insane people. Being a product of the Age of Reason and Practicality, he questions the truth of what the boy says and uses his own extensive knowledge to confirm reality. The fact that he remembers the historical occurrence of an eclipse is too incredibly convenient, but is presented as acceptable fact in the context of the story.
Hank’s personality begins to show through in this scene as he decides to make the best out of a bad situation. He has the patience to see beyond the moment to a couple of days ahead when the eclipse is to happen. It is this perseverance and pluck that helps him become The Boss of Camelot in a matter of three months. He feels confident in his superior intelligence and education. His cunning is in striking contrast to the simplicity of the residents of Camelot.
Mark Twain also provides some ironic commentary on the Knights of King Arthur’s
Court. They are crude and rough. They derive sadistic pleasure by throwing
bones at dogs and watching the animals fight. Twain takes great care to
present them as “gracious and courtly” and “good and serious listeners,”
saying they are a “childlike and innocent lot; telling lies of the stateliest
pattern with a most gentle and winning naiveté, and ready and willing
to listen to anybody else’s lie, and believe it, too.” He compares them
faintly to modern statesmen who tell lies convincingly; however, unlike
the statesmen, the knights are unaware of cunning and diplomacy.
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. 09 May 2017