Knowledge and Technology in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a complicated novel that fundamentally deals with the concept of the human experience. Hank Morgan is a nineteenth century mechanic who is transported back thirteen centuries to medieval Britain, during the time of King Arthur. After his initial shock, he becomes determined to "civilize" Camelot by introducing modern industrial technology. At an initial look Twain seems to be favoring the industrialized capitalist society that he lives in over the feudal society of medieval Britain. But in a closer examination of the work it becomes clear that this observation is much too simple, as the industrial world that Hank Morgan creates is destroyed. Therefore the book can be viewed as a working out of the idea that a quick change in a civilization brings disaster. Civilization and change need to be developed, or at least explained within the culture itself, in order for them to become lasting institutions. Hank's failing is that he believes that he is superior to everyone, and that he can change the society of Camelot simply by introducing technology.
Hank becomes "the boss" of Camelot, and begins his plans to free the serfs and establish a republic. However his plans are destined to fail because he is incapable of understanding values that are different from his own; he is the ultimate know-it all, and sets out to remake the world in his own image. He is given "the choicest suite of apartments in the castle, after the king's"(Twain 31), but he criticizes them because they lack the conveniences of the nineteenth century, such as "a three-color God-Bless-Our-Home over the door"(Twain 32). His lack of acceptance of the local culture is also seen through his Victorian modesty, he sleeps in his armor because "it would have seemed so like undressing before folk"(Twain 60), even though he had...
Cited: George, Roger. "The road lieth not straight ': Maps and mental models in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur 's
." ATO, March 1991, pp. 57-67.
Guttmann, Allen. "Mark Twain 's Connecticut Yankee: Affirmation of the Vernacular Tradition?" in Critics on Mark Twain, pp.103-107. Edited by David B. Kesterson. Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1973.
Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur 's Court. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
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