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In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, when Morgan and the King are slaves,...

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littledevil | eNoter

Posted November 13, 2010 at 3:12 AM via web

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In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, when Morgan and the King are slaves, they witness the hanging of a young girl. Write a summary.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 9, 2010 at 9:09 PM (Answer #1)

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This episode happens in Chapter 35 whilst Hank and King Arthur are living as slaves and wandering around England with a slave trader. What is key to notice is how Twain uses this section of the novel to reveal the large number of social injustices that occur in England under the noses of the ruling class - having King Arthur in a very different role is of course ironic in a number of ways, but it also allows him to experience first hand the suffering that a lot of his subjects face.

In Chapter 35, after a woman is burned for supposedly being a witch, Morgan and Arthur enter London, where they see a huge procession watching a cart with a coffin in it and a young woman sitting on that coffin with her baby at her breast. It becomes clear that she is to be hung because her husband was seized to serve in a ship and the woman, without support or food and having been thrown out of her house for lack of money, tried to steal a tiny piece of cloth, but was caught, and for this she is to be hung. The priest who attends her protests against the injustice of such a system:

'Law is intended to mete out justice. Sometimes it fails. This cannot be helped. We can only grieve, and be resigned, and pray for the soul of him who falls unfairly by the arm of the law, and that his fellows may be few.'

What is key to realise how Twain satirises unfair systems of law, but also equally the slavish obedience of people to the law, even when they recognise that the laws are unjust and in particular cases need to be adjusted or flexibility needs to be shown.

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