A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Novel Summary: Chapter XIV-XX

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After a short aside, where Hank tells of his idea to set up a mint, he then begins to smoke his pipe in Chapter XIV. This frightens Sandy and the freemen until he explains that this enchantment only harms his enemies. With that, six knights appear with their squires and they all charge at Hank. They retreat, though, when he blows smoke from his pipe because they believe he is a dragon. Sandy tells the retreating knights that Hank is The Boss and they must go to King Arthur's court within two days. These knights now belong to Hank.

In the following chapter, Chapter XV, Sandy begins the telling of a lengthy tale about Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine. Hank interjects and is critical of her limited vocabulary and says the stories can be monotonous. He falls asleep whilst listening and misses chunks of her tale. This chapter ends with their approach to a castle.

In Chapter XVI, Hank stops a knight to ask for information about the castle. It is explained to the readers that the stranger is wearing a tabard that advertises soap and that this is another of Hank's ideas. It is explained that the castle belongs to Morgan Le Fay, the notorious sister of King Arthur and wife of King Uriens. After entering the castle, Hank witnesses her evil ways when she stabs a page because he innocently brushed against her. Sandy and Hank are ordered to the dungeon when Hank compliments King Arthur. She changes her mind, however, when Sandy informs her that Hank is The Boss.

Sandy and Hank then attend her banquet in Chapter XVII. An old lady enters and curses Morgan Le Fay for killing her grandchild. The guards are told to take her to the stake. Sandy orders this command to be withdrawn otherwise Hank will dissolve the castle: this request is agreed to.

After hearing the sounds of a man being tortured, Hank and Sandy then visit him in the dungeon. It transpires that an anonymous informer has accused the prisoner of killing a stag on the royal grounds. If he does not confess he will be killed. On speaking to Hank alone, the prisoner admits he did kill the stag, but did not confess because, 'the bitter law takes the convicted man's estate and beggars his widow and orphan.' Hank tells him he will book him and his family into his 'colony'.

There is a shift to discuss the role of priests in Chapter XVIII. Hank perceives many 'on the ground' are good, but still wants to split the church into sects which will police each other. Hank then considers the importance of training and believes that to speak of 'nature' is a folly because it is education that forms us. Hank visits Morgan Le Fay's other prisoners and releases 47 of them. Five of these could no longer remember his or her own names, or why they had been imprisoned.

In the following short chapter, Sandy and Hank continue with their journey and Sandy carries on telling her story, which is 'borrowed' from Malory. In Chapter XX, another knight bearing an advertisement appears and Hank's thoughts return to the released prisoners. He ruminates how far these people had been 'sunk in slavery' as, for example, the family of one of the men was not angry. Hank believes a revolution is needed. This chapter ends with Sandy and Hank approaching the ogre's castle, which is the reason for their adventure. However, the castle is a pigsty, although Sandy insists it is not. She believes the hogs are the princesses that need to be saved. Hank buys the hogs and they begin to drive them home.

There is a mockery of the romanticized belief in magic in these chapters. It is most notable when the knights stop attacking Hank when smoke appears from his pipe. Their fear that he is a dragon is humorous, of course, and it is also another vehicle for parodying superstition. This is emphasized when Hank and Sandy finally reach the supposed enchanted castle (which is, in fact, a pigsty). Sandy can only see a castle and princesses, which offers the view that the belief can override knowledge.

Further critical comment of the society is offered when Hank discovers the plight of Morgan Le Fay's prisoners. An extended criticism of this period is offered with the unjust treatment of serfs and peasants highlighted once more. His republican spirit appears again when he argues in favor of revolution. It is important to remember that these criticisms are open to allegorical readings too. The questioning of these past cruelties also nudges the reader to see that the narrator is also talking about the present: that rule by monarchy is unfair and leads to abuses of power.


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