Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Hank Morgan, called the Connecticut Yankee, an ingenious man who is struck on the head during a quarrel in a New England arms factory in the year 1879. He awakes in England, in June, 528, and is taken prisoner. About to be burned at the stake on the twenty-first of June, he remembers that there was a solar eclipse on that day. By prophesying the eclipse, he saves his life and discredits Merlin. Later, he is named “The Boss” and decides to raise the status of the common people through a variety of programs and innovations to be implemented over the next several years. His innovations include schools, a telephone system, soap, and gunpowder. He points out to King Arthur the grave injustices of the feudal system while accompanying him on a tour of his realm. He marries Alisande. When their little daughter becomes ill, he takes her to France to recuperate. While he is away, the church orders that all of his improvements in England be destroyed. When he returns, he destroys some of his equipment so that it cannot be used, and he undertakes an apocalyptic war with the knights. Merlin casts a spell on him that will cause him to sleep for thirteen hundred years.
Clarence, a foppish page who becomes Morgan’s chief assistant in his efforts to modernize the land and improve the lot of the common people.
King Arthur, a kind and courageous ruler who does not...
(The entire section is 386 words.)
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Hank’s general impression of King Arthur is that he is too sure of himself and too unaware of the realities of his country. From this assessment, Hank feels that King Arthur is therefore destined to rule poorly. While traveling on his quest to free the damsels, Hank becomes outraged at the inequities of the English economic system and disgusted at the way that peasants are refused any say in their fate. When King Arthur offers to go traveling with Hank (with the king and Hank traveling in disguise), Hank sees his opportunity to show the king what life is like for the large segment of the population. Hank finds King Arthur’s regal bearing pitiful because he knows that the king understands only one set of behaviors. Hank also finds the king’s actions annoying because he (King Arthur) expresses his own thoughts when he should be listening. Ultimately, King Arthur’s behavior proves dangerous because his proclamations while dressed in common clothes are taken to be signs that he is insane, which makes it easy for Dowley to arrange to have Arthur and Hank sold into slavery.
While traveling together, however, Hank sees the admirable side of King Arthur. Entering a house infected with smallpox, King Arthur does not hesitate or think of his own health when bringing an infected child to his mother, who is too weak to stand. King Arthur’s belief in the rights of royalty extends to his power over illness, which Hank finds ridiculous...
(The entire section is 2046 words.)