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King Arthur Essay, Research Paper

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Hank Morgan, a Connecticut Yankee working in a munitions factory near Hartford, is tapped on the head by a crowbar during a quarrel with a fellow worker. He awakens in the early part of the sixth century, A.D. Captured by the knight Sir Kay, he is taken to Camelot, King Arthur’s court, where the knights of the realm gather around the “Table Round.” The Yankee is amazed to here each knight exaggerate the tale of his own exploits in his quest for the Holy Grail. The unhappy Hank is sentenced to be burned at the stake on the twenty first of June. Fortunately, he draws on his knowledge of science and history and recalls that there was a total eclipse of the sun on that day. Quickly noticing the ignorance of the people he is now among, Hank threatens to blot out the sun if he is harmed. When the eclipse occurs, terrifying the spectators, King Arthur promises the Yankee the second place in the kingdom if the “magician” Hank will bring back the sun. Merlin, previously the presiding magician at the court, is jealous at the Yankee’s success. He vows revenge for being pushed into the background.

Soon, Hank is familiarly called “the Boss” by everyone. He starts an extensive program of reorganization of King Arthur’s kingdom. The Boss can dictate every group in England (including the knights), except to the priests of the established church. He steers clear of this opposition group. After causing Merlin’s tower to crumble with a detonation of some secretly installed explosives, the Boss is hailed as the powerful purveyor of magic. With the help of a young page named Clarence, the Yankee begins to organize schools and factories to train workers for what he visualizes will be a superior society. Perhaps a society like one built in the late nineteenth century, but with less materialism and more dedication to intellectual and spiritual progress.

Challenged to a duel by Sir Sagramor, the Boss (accompanied by a young woman named Alisande, renamed Sandy) goes on a tour of England. Two matters especially trouble him: the heaviness of his coat and mail, and the talkativeness of Sandy. Once in a while, he meets a man of more than usual intelligence; this man he sends back to Camelot with a note addressed to Clarence. The man will become part of his “Man Factory”. Hank comes to the castle of Morgan le Fay (King Arthur’s Jealous sister) and visits the dungeons under her castle. Against her wishes, he insists that all but one of the prisoners is to be released. In the Valley of Holiness, he repairs wall of a deep well. When the water fills the well, the masses of people agree that he has worked another wonderful “miracle”. The Boss, taking advantage of a telephone line he has installed, calls Clarence, prophesies that King Arthur will soon visit the Valley of Holiness. When King Arthur arrives, the people declare that the Boss has worked another miracle. Finally, the king joins the Yankee and in disguise the two secretly tour the countryside, surveying the true living conditions of the common people. King Arthur proves his courage and kindness when he personally helps care for some sick and starving peasants who have been excommunicated by the church. The two travelers are captured and sold into slavery. In London, Hank maneuvers an escape, after picking the lock on his chains. A notable feature of the Grand rescue is the arrival of Sir Lancelot and other knights on bicycles.

Finally, the Yankee is forced to fight a duel with Sir Sagramor. The heavily-armored knight represents not only himself and Merlin but also all of the knights errant in England who are offended by the ideas of progress advanced by the Boss. The Yankee wears no armor, in fact, he is clad in tights. He continually ducks away from the land of the charging Sir Sagramor and finally drags the knight to the ground with a lasso, and when Sir Sagramor again charges the Yankee, the lightly dressed man shoots him with a gun. All of the Knights of the Round Table charge the solitary Boss. He kills eleven of them with two guns, and he is relieved when the rest retreat for he only has one bullet left.

A few years pass, and England is now recognized along the lines of the industrial development of the late nineteenth century. The Yankee married Sandy, and they have a daughter named “Hello-Central.” Returning to Camelot after a trip to the seashore for the child’s health, Hank finds King Arthur dead and the entire Kingdom divided into two forces. A fight between King Arthur and Sir Lancelot has taken place over the king’s wife, Queen Guenever. The established church has declared the “interdict”- excommunicating all those opposed to it. The masses of people who had once supported the boss now flock back to the Church. The Yankee and a small picked force of young men build a fortress surrounded by electrical wires. Most of the knights are killed in a grand attack, but the Boss is stabbed and then is nursed by an old woman (Merlin in disguise). Merlin casts a spell over the Yankee and states that he will awaken in thirteen hundred years. As the story ends, the Yankee wakes up in the nineteenth century.

Character Analysis

Hank Morgan-The Yankee is first seen as a “curious stranger”. He has candid simplicity. His conversation is soft pleasant and flowing but he says strange things. Hank is an American “born and reared” in Hartford, Connecticut and is a practical “Yankee”. He does not panic when he suddenly in a strange land, but sensibly proceeds to solve his problems in a sensible order. The most important feature of Hank is his ingenuity, which comes to his rescue many times in the story.

King Arthur-The king is a mixture of virtue, superstition and majestic gusto. His subjects refer to him as “Arthur the king whose world is gold!” He is revered as a “wise and humane judge.” He always does everything honest and fair.

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