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A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
Transcript of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
B Y M A R K T W A I N
aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Born: November 30, 1835
Died: April 21, 1910
Occupation: Humorist and Writer
Known most for:
Began with light humorous writings, but eventually moved to social criticisms
Born and raised in the South.
Lived a life full of different jobs.
Soldier, Steamboat conductor, frequent Speaker
Friend to all walks of life.
"The Father of American Literature"
Wrote many letters, essays, and other works. Usually published in various newspapers.
The story of a Yankee from the times of the Industrial Revolution, who is mysteriously transported to 6th century England, and the hijinks that ensue.
Modernization of England
Abolishment of Chivalry
Establishment of various Institutions
The undermining of Monarchy
Overturning Class lines
Performing "miracles" to stump Merlin
Hijinks (in no order)
Forced into slavery
Fighting with 13 soldiers against 30,000 knights
Attempting to reason with medieval people
Setting's Time Period
Arthurian England, a time when Knights
wandered the land, doing good deeds.
A Time of magic and fantasy.
But also a Feudal time,where the poor masses
were forced to huddle in shacks, working from
Dawn to Dusk for a scrap of bread and a promise
of the same upon the 'morrow... If they didn't die.
Book's Time Period
The Gilded age, a time when business boomed and business tycoons built empires.
A Time of growth and industrial revolution.
But also a terrible time for anyone not reaping the benefits of the industry. The poor masses were forced to live in crowded, disease-ridden tenements, and work in dangerous, poor-conditioned factories.
Literature of the Time
Typically idealized the ideas of chivalry.
Previous writings by Twain had been light
ACYIKAC seems to be a transitional work
between the lighter material, to his next phase of dark writing.
Themes Within the Work
Modern thought vs Medieval thought
Example 1: On the issue of "Pay"
The narrator speaks to a blacksmith about pay. Due to what
he has been taught, the blacksmith cannot understand that
even if you are paid twice as much, if you are forced to pay twice
as much too, your pay is actually the same.
The main point of the story, the narrator is forced to reason with those who have been indoctrinated with medieval thought.
Example 2: Improving society
The narrator spends a great deal of time in the book
making reforms throughout the society. He creates
newspapers, telegraph communication, railroads,
military academies and so on and so forth. But still, these
reforms aren't what the society needs.
"What those people valued was high wages; it didn't seem to be a matter of any consequence to them whether the high wages would buy anything or not.
"What is not openly pronounced in the novel is the weakness of Hank's[the narrator] reforms. Readers hear about railroads, gold currency, a stock market, newspapers, etc., but really what effect do these have? The ones that are shown to have any value have value to Morgan[Hank's last name], for securing his claims of being a great sorceror..."
Themes Within the Work
Hank is like an older person, who goes up to a child and begins teaching things that the child is not ready for. As in example 1, when he attempts to impress upon the Blacksmith, Marco, the idea of pay being based not on numerical value, but by what you could buy,
Hank was sold into slavery. There are some ideas which one must not learn until one has experienced or learned of other ideas beforehand. In his coming to England and bringing about change so that the society matches his standards, Hank in fact causes a war.
Though Hank tried to keep the Church out of his affairs, due to the War between Arthur and Lancelot, the Church takes over England and destroys all of Hanks improvements.
Within the book, Twain's view of religion is shown through Hank's internal monologue, where he states; "In two of three little centuries it[the Catholic Church] had converted a nation of men to a nation of worms. Before the day of the Church's supremacy in the world, men were men, and held hteir heads up, and had a man's pride and spirit and independence.
Twain makes the Church the entity responsible at the end of the book, for destroying the modern devices. Because of this, "English culture is reverted back to the primitive, enslaving mindset that it had when he[Hank] arrived. The church is held responsible for opposing progress and therefore, for causing widespread suffereing."
-Novels for Students
So Twain's view of religion is made pretty clear by the lack of its direct importance, until the point where it is the cause for a loss in advancement of society.
Towards his later life, around the time he was writing this book, Twain had become critical of the Church, and the rest of humanity as well.