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

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STUDY GUIDE: A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHURíS COURT

IRONY IN THE NOVEL

Mark Twain shows himself as a master of irony when he exposes the social evils of the times and the hypocrisy of the characters humorously. The novel starts on a note of irony. Hank Morgan, the modern American finds himself in the ancient court of King Arthur. At the court, Morgan condemns the knights for telling lies. However, when he is put inside the dungeon, he also tells a lie to escape bondage. He calls himself a magician who can create a calamity and darken the world if he must. Morgan, the rationalist, projects himself as a man dabbling in black magic and the supernatural. He reveals the scientific phenomenon of the solar eclipse as a devastating calamity darkening Camelot. People hold him in awe and the King accepts him as a minister in his court. So by lying and fooling the people, he earns their favor. Later, he destroys the tower of Merlin through explosives and lighted wires, to prove his credibility. Twain creates an ironic situation not only out of the ignorance and superstition of the people, but also out of the inconsistency in the behavior of Morgan.

Morgan condemns royalty for thinking themselves superior to their subjects, yet he himself boasts and brags about his powers and his position. Over and over again, he uses his ordinary knowledge from the nineteenth century to make the people think he has extraordinary powers and he never confesses the truth. The ultimate irony is that when it is all over, and he is sent back to the nineteenth century, he realizes the beauty in Camelotís purity and longs to return. He has been given back his place in the technologically and industrially advanced nineteenth century, but all he wants is Camelot.



STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Why does Mark Twain use the device of a frame to begin and end the novel?

2. How different is Camelot from Connecticut according to Hank Morgan?

3. How does Morgan save his life and earn the favor of the King?

4. How does Morgan use both Science and Superstition to establish his identity in Camelot?

5. How does Morgan become The Boss of Camelot?

6. Why does Sir Sagramour challenge Morgan to fight a duel with him?

7. Why does the King choose Morgan to go hunting for the abducted princesses?

8. In what way does Sandy play the part of a faithful companion?

9. Who is Morgan le Fay? How does she reflect the evils of the age?

10. Why does Morgan go to the Valley of Holiness? How does he work the miracle?

11. How does King Arthur display the positive side of his personality during his tour of the countryside?

12. How do the tough experiences of life make Arthur a just King?

13. How are the King and the Boss saved from execution?

14. How does Clarence prove to be a trusted servant and friend of the Boss?

15. How does the Boss transform Camelot into a modern city?

16. How does the Boss defeat the knights in the tournament?

17. Why does the Boss leave Camelot?

18. What startling changes take place in Camelot in the absence of the Boss?

19. Why do the Boss and Clarence shift to the Merlinís Cave?

20. How do the army of the Boss manage to vanquish twenty five thousand knights?

21. How does the Boss get wounded?

22. How does Boss meet his end? Explain the irony of reversal in the last scene?


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