The Role of Slavery in the Novel “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain
Mark Twain was born Samuel Clemens, on November 30, 1835 in Missouri. Samuel’s father died of pneumonia when he was twelve. That’s when he got a job at his brother’s newspaper, the Hannibal Western Union, at fifteen. At twenty one, Clemens began learning how to pilot a steamboat on the Mississippi. He soon became a licensed pilot, and employment was good. Although, after the outbreak of the Civil War, trade along the Mississippi ends and so does his career. He served in the Confederate military, but that did not work out. He headed west with his brother and made their way to San Fransisco, and started his career as a journalist. His short story “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” was popular and raised his profile as a writer. His first book, The Innocents Abroad, became a best seller. In 1876, Tom Sawyer became published and in 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published. Both novels are his most celebrated works. By 1895, he goes on the road and starts a lecture tour to raise money to pay of some debts, and it’s a smash hit. In the end, Mark Twain died when he was seventy four in his home on April 10, 1910.
King Arthur – A savvy and thoughtful king. He tries his best, yet he has a full offer of the biases and superstitions of the day. The Yankee’s supposition of his scholarly limit shifts, yet he is ready for learning and of remedying his mistakes. Merlin – A quack magician with the deadly habit of really having confidence in his own sleight of hand. Merlin is tricky and frivolous and awfully noxious; he would be a unimaginably hazardous individual if any of his deceptions at any point worked. Guinevere – Arthur’s lovely queen. Everybody in the kingdom is aware of her careless activities, with the exception of Arthur, obviously. Lancelot – The sparkling apex of gallantry, frequently alluded to as “The Invincible.” He is respectable and generous and by and large great all around that can be normal from a man of his time, with the exception of his unfortunate enthusiasm for Guinevere. Camelot – The seat of King Arthur’s court and of the Round Table in Arthurian legend. It is differently related to real areas in England, where excavations have uncovered a castle like that depicted as Camelot. The Round Table – A round table made by Merlin for Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s dad, who offered it to King Leodegraunce, Guinevere’s dad, who offered it to King Arthur on his wedding day. It situated 150 knights, each seat appropriated
In the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the role of slavery was to further oppress those at the bottom of the social classes so they could never hope to improve their meager existences. These people were poorer than dirt and treated like slaves. Their social class was that of peasant. In the novel, it talks a lot about the different social classes and how almost all of the peasants received subservient treatment. “The most of King Arthur’s British nation were slaves, pure and simple, and bore that name, and wore the iron collar on their necks; and the rest were slaves in fact, but without the name.” (Twain 38). These people were called “freemen,” but there is irony in this term. They most definitely were not free, and they were not treated like men.
The role of slavery in this novel oppressed the people who were beneath those of higher social class. The nobles did not want the peasants rising in political and social status, so they oppressed them with poor treatment and economic hardship. “They were freemen, but they could not leave the estates of their lord or their bishop without his permission…” (Twain 59). They were forced to serve people who were more well-off than they were, and probably abused by their masters. If they were given the chance of actual freedom, they probably wouldn’t know what to do with it, because they were always treated the in the same, horrible manner. The nobles felt that they could treat them however they wanted. For example, Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s sister, had a reputation. She treated the peasants in her kingdom horribly, and locked them up in her torture dungeon for no reason. This is because she could, and no one would raise an eyebrow at her.
It took Hank Morgan seven years to abolish slavery. In the book, Twain emphasized how sneaky and clever Hank was about the whole thing, because ending slavery wasn’t very popular among the general public or the nobles. But, he did succeed. “Slavery was dead and gone; all men were equal before the law; taxation had been equalized.” (Twain 212). In the end, sadly, Hank unfortunately lost his progress when his rivals gang up on him and somehow send him back to his own time. It’s difficult to change the world when you’re less ignorant than everyone else in it. Hank Morgan, who is narrating, does not perceive the name “Camelot”, but goes around and watches what is occurring around him in this strange stetting. Twain distinctively portrays commoner life in the Middle Ages, which are altogether different to life of the nobles and rulers. Twain is likewise certain to portray the hopelessness of the prisoners, the oblivious cruelty of the knights, dogs battling about bones, and the scent from the soiled individuals around him. Hank Morgan at long last ironically reasons that he is in a asylum. In any case, that isn’t the situation.
When Hank wakes up, he believes that what he had just experienced was a dream, until Clarence appears. Hank begs the boy to assist him in an escape, but Clarence doesn’t want to. He tells Hank that Merlin enchanted the dungeon, and Clarence is afraid of Merlin because he is a “wizard”. Twain writes about the trusting of the townspeople and their willingness to believe completely wrong things to be true. It’s not their fault, science was not the most important thing on peoples’ mind in the medieval era. Hank thinks that the guards were coming to deliver a compromise, but they actually have come to collect him in order to burn him at the stake. Clarence tells Hank that he arranged the execution to be a day early in order to help, but ironically that doesn’t help Hank at all. Hank is very distressed because he can’t really control the sun, and it’s the wrong day to be pretending he can. This shows how gullible Clarence is when Hank tells him he is a wizard, and satirically sending Hank to his death.
Hank Morgan is employing a little bit of his knowledge base to fool the angle of the commoners. An eclipse, which he thought was a day away from occurring, happened once he was at the stake, and he used it to his advantage. Hank recalls “how Columbus, or Cortez, or one of those people” used an eclipse to fool the natives. King Arthur names him “perpetual minister and executive”, appointed hank the second most powerful person within the land. Twain was alluding to a historical event, when Columbus used a foreseen scientific phenomenon to trick the native peoples of Jamaica into serving to his crew. Since Hank’s eclipse, he’s become a very prominent public figure. Merlin becomes jealous, and spreads lies about Hank, calling him a fake magician. Hank then decides to blow up Merlin’s tower, and challenges Merlin to cast a “protection spell” on it, if he was a real magician. Merlin fails, of course, because Hank blows up his tower, but not by magic, by knowledge. Hank is already inconvenienced enough by not having simple necessities he had in the 19th century. What he does have is knowledge, which is way more advanced than the people in the medieval era. He uses that knowledge to his advantage by making explosives and a lightening rod to attract a storm and essentially “blow up” Merlin’s tower.
Hank Morgan is getting frustrated with Sandy because she talks too much, and her dictions make no sense most of the time. The way he tells her is satirical, as if she will actually use up all of the air with her ramblings. The real reason why hank is frustrated is because of his armor, which is clunky and uncomfortable. Twain provides us with a vivid imagery of how Hank is suffering; sweat dripping into his eyes and flies getting into his helmet. Hank and Sandy come upon ‘freeman’, but their name is ironic, because they are not ‘free’. Hank asks them to image what it would be like to be able to vote for their own leader, and only one is capable of replying. The man said that it was a crime that there was no choice over who would rule the people. Twain writes about a well known idea: your expectations have an enormous effect on your attitude. Since the freemen don’t expect their lives to improve, they are fine with what they already have. However, Hank knows that their lives could be much better, because he comes from a time where life is different for the better. He is happy that this freeman realizes it, and hopes that more freemen realize that the way their people are living is not okay.
Hank Morgan and Sandy are visitors at Morgan le Fay’s feast, yet it is hindered when an old lady shows up in the entryway. She is the grandma of the young worker Morgan killed, and she reviles Morgan. Morgan arranges her to be executed, however Sandy, with Hank’s permission, intervenes and the lady is saved.Twain writes about the medieval justice system. He includes torture devices, long imprisonments, and a ruler’s ability to choose any prisoner she wants to be executed. He writes about them because it has been proven that this a curt ally went on during medieval times. He chooses to write about the horror’s in Morgan le Fay’s dungeon rather than Arthur’s. It appears to be far-fetched that a king, even Arthur, would be any superior to some other leader of his time. Hank is reassuring the abbot that he isn’t preforming any dark magic when fixing the well. Even though Hank has no idea what the issue is, he is confident that he can complete it. Even though Merlin has never really injured Hank in any serious way, Hank still wants to ruin him professionally. Merlin believes in his own magic, and that’s why he’s so despised. Twain appreciates people who are equally skeptical. A “true believer,” like Merlin, is a prime target for humiliation.
Hank is questioning a noble’s understudy, and the student got a little mouthy so Hank shut him down. The nobles think that they are superior to the peasants, even if the nobles aren’t as educated as the commoners. Rewarding inherited rights can never make successful countries. Twain utilizes a court case and the examination of Hank’s “West Pointer” to show his thought. Hank proposes that there ought to be more individuals engaged with making laws or in the arrangement of an armed force. Hank trusts that is the thing that will make King Arthur’s kingdom a more fruitful place. While a young cadet was being questioned about his ‘nobility’, he told them that before his family became well known and refined.
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