"Satire and Socil Commentary in "A connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain

Essay by Rastlin MajereHigh School, 10th gradeA+, February 1997

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The art of literature has long been used as a vehicle for entertaining the masses. However, many stories have another purpose, such as expressing the writer's feelings on social customs from years gone bye or at the time of writing. One vehicle which is often used to attain this goal is satire. Mark Twain's novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, is an excellent example of using satire as social commentary(Reis 316). The novel is definitely a commentary on the ideals of King Arthur's sixth century Camelot, but the many inconsistencies and ambiguities which are apparent in the story also suggest that Twain was also satirizing the flaws in the author's own nineteenth century society(Wiggins 80). If we look at the character progression of both Hank Morgan and Merlin, the reader can easily see Twain's dual-criticism.

When Hank arrives in Camelot, he quickly rises to power. His manipulation of public opinion regarding him by the use of 'miracles' immediately brings Hank to the realization that he can basically do whatever he pleases.

His knowledge of nineteenth century technology makes Hank Morgan a 'human standing next to apes'(Robinson 190). This section of the story is filled with Twain's commentary on the absurdness of the ideals of Chivalry. When Camelot is looked at from the standpoint of twentieth century practicality, it looks so absurd that it is funny(Robinson 184). An excellent example of this can be found in the banquet which the Knights of the Round Table attend and at which Hank is sentenced. The knights, supposed pillars of Chivalry, sit around the table discussing their own deeds, drinking, and embellishing the facts of events which had taken place. The Knights also partake in activities that we would label as childish, such as the amusement over the dog chasing its...