A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
By Mark Twain
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Like the hero in the novel, Mark Twain was also a time traveller. His boyhood was spent in the American South, where people followed agrarian lives. As the country modernized, inventions such as electricity and the move towards manufacturing rapidly changed the way people lived. By taking his readers back to King Arthur's 6th-century court, Twain explores the struggle between industrial progress and the ways of a rural past. 1. TIME SLIP. While visiting Warwick Castle, the narrator meets a curious old stranger who talks about people in the past as though he knew them personally. Later that night, the old man gives him an ancient manuscript which tells the tale of Hank Morgan, a Connecticut Yankee who, having been knocked out in 1879, wakes up in the 6th century. At first, Hank doesn't realize where he is, and assumes that the knight who captures him is a circus performer, or a lunatic. He later realizes that the truth may be even more bizarre. Clarence, a young page whom he meets, tells him that he is now in the year 528. 2. THE BOSS. Hank finds himself at King Arthur's court, where he hears Merlin tell the story of how Arthur was given his sword by the Lady of the Lake. Soon after, Hank is sentenced to death for allegedly attacking Sir Kay with an army of barbarians and, in an attempt to win his freedom, claims to be a famous magician. Merlin does not believe him and Hank is taken to the stake where, knowing that there will soon be an eclipse, he threatens to blot out the sun. When the sun disappears, the crowd is terror-stricken and Arthur promises to give Hank anything he wants if he will bring back the sun. 3. CIVILIZING CAMELOT. Hank becomes the country's executive and is given the title of 'The Boss'. He observes 6th-century life and is disappointed by it. There are no modern conveniences such as soap, sugar, coffee or tobacco. Chivalry strikes him as impractical, and jousting tournaments as absurd. Hank is challenged to a duel by Sir Sagramore the Desirous, over a misunderstanding. The event is to be held when the knight returns from his search the Holy Grail. By now, Hank has been office for four years. He has successfully - secretly, for fear of the Church – set up factories, with Clarence as his right-hand man. 4. A QUEST. A damsel arrives at the court with a tale of captive princesses. Hank is sent to release them, with the girl as his guide. He nicknames her Sandy. They arrive at the castle of Morgan Le Fay, Arthur's murdering half-sister. Hank remarks that he doesn't expect a pleasant welcome and, initially they do not receive one. Later in their journey, Sandy points out the castle in which the princesses are imprisoned. Hank sees only a pigsty and some hogs. After negotiating the swineherds (ogres, to Sandy), the Boss frees the pigs and completes his quest. 5. THE JOUST. On his return, the Boss battles with Sir Sagramore. However, the fight is really between the Boss and Merlin because the wizard has given Sir Sagramore magical powers. The Boss first outruns Sir Sagramore and then unseats him with a lasso. Other knights take up the challenge and the Boss defeats them all, until Merlin steals his lariat. Sir Sagramore returns but Hank shoots him dead with a pistol. The crowd thinks this to be magic. The Boss then challenges all the knights in the kingdom. After he shoots the first nine, the knights give up. 6. BORROWED TIME. Hank reveals his secret civilization. Slavery is abolished, 19th-century practices established and the knights are sent out to spread the word about the new world. In the future, the Boss plans to abolish state religion and establish a republic with universal suffrage. Suddenly, Sandy, whom he has married, tells him that their child...