Comic in Time Travel Stories (Mark Twain's "Connecticut Yankee on King Arthur's Court" and Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhikers' Guide Through The Galaxy")

Essay by GethzerionCollege, UndergraduateF, April 2006

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Time travel stories are the stories in which people get lost in the dimension of time (and space). Time travel stories seem to have more with the fantasy writing, but they, in fact, may present us with a very realistic depiction of contemporary society and men. Authors of this kind of literature do that in not so obvious way, for the facts they want to exhibit lie hidden beneath the improbability of time travel, and comical situations the characters who travel through time usually get into.

The source of comic lies in the situations where a character finds his usual behavior and beliefs contrasted and often confronted with those of an alien surroundings he finds himself into. From this kind of social, cultural and temporal misunderstanding rises a comical situation which the character finds difficult to manage, and therefore looks silly, or finds the society he got into to be that way.

But behind these comic, light- hearted situations lurks the fact that shows that the cause of this type of misunderstanding lies in the rigidity of the characters. It shows how people are often not able to understand different social rules and customs, and therefore stick to their usual patterns of behavior, which makes them unable to adapt and empathize with people unlike themselves, which is not funny at all.

The characters in time travel novels are somewhat stereotyped as typical representatives of their societies. This occurs because the character's personality and behavior are strongly opposed to different social rules, so what is taken as most ordinary and common in one society, and often goes without giving any notion to it, becomes highlighted and very obvious in a different setting. That's how Hank Morgan is a typical man from industrial Connecticut, or how Arthur Dent is a typical Englishman...