Study Guide: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court|
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SYNOPSIS / NOTES: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT
Finally, Twain satirizes the unjust laws of England and the inhumanity
of royalty--subjects dealt with at length in The Prince and the Pauper.
For centuries, subjects were severely punished for petty crimes. Morgan
Le Fay kills a man for falling on her knee by mistake. The queen is unable
to tolerate a little lapse in propriety. In this chapter, the queen again
orders a woman to be burnt alive because the old lady raises her voice
against the Queen. And another unlucky prisoner is subjected to torture
and condemned to die for killing a deer to feed his hungry family. The
laws of the land in medieval times are totally insensitive to the needs
of the poor and the punishments are inhumane. As well, the laws are biased.
The queen may commit terrible crimes in daylight for no reason and go
unpunished. Her subjects, on the other hand, are liable to lose their
lives if they commit even a trivial mistake.
Before leaving the castle, The Boss asks for permission to view Le Fay’s
dungeons. There he finds numerous prisoners punished for nameless crimes,
some of which have even been forgotten. The Queen is unaware of the number
of prisoners in her dungeon, as well as the causes and terms of their
imprisonment. The Boss asks permission from Le Fay to first release a
couple who have been imprisoned since their wedding day; he then frees
forty-seven other prisoners. In all, only one prisoner is left behind
(one who killed a friend of Le Fay). The Boss offers the capable prisoners
jobs in his factories.
This chapter again exposes the inhumanity of royalty and also clergy. Both the queen and the priest are against the idea of releasing their prisoners, even though neither remembers why the prisoners are there.
Another theory Twain emphasizes in the chapter is the belief that all human
beings are same, immaterial of their birth. In the queen’s dungeon, one
of the prisoners is undergoing trial because he has publicly said that
he “believe(s) that if you were to strip the nation naked and send a stranger
through the crowd, (you) couldn’t tell the King from a quack doctor, nor
a duke from a hotel clerk.”
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. 09 May 2017