A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court


Mark Twain

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

The court eagerly discusses the upcoming fight between Hank and Sir Sagramore. Many people encourage Hank to go on his own quest so he can gain enough renown to become a worthy opponent. Before questing, though, Hank wants to establish the “system and machinery” of his “future civilization.” First, he sets up a “teacher factory” to build a system of schools (away from the Church’s watchful eye) to train artisans and scientists. He also establishes a “complete variety” of Protestant churches. Hank believes in religious freedom and in separation of church and state—the only religious teaching in his system happens in special Sunday Schools. Next, he tries to modernize the mines.
As an American from the 19th century, Hank Morgan becomes a sort of reverse colonizer in his attempts to create a “modern” society in medieval England. Thus, he starts laying the groundwork for a civilization founded on American values like Protestant (as opposed to Catholic) Christianity and the separation of church and state. It’s at this point that the limits of Hank’s knowledge come into question. He may have a better education than the most learned medieval scholars, thanks to his 1300-year advantage, but it strains belief to accept that he could establish a teacher’s college, half a dozen theologically distinct churches, and train both artisans and scientists. Finally, this is the first time he uses the word “factories” to describe his schools and other programs. The word suggests his vision is perhaps not as democratic as he claims, since factories tend to turn out a uniform product rather than a self-directed and individualistic population. Hank makes people with his values for his new civilization.
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Four years pass, showing what a benign despot like Hank can accomplish. He has all the pieces of a 19th-century civilization ready to go, but he is introducing them slowly to avoid scaring people or attracting unwanted attention from the Church. He has quietly established military and naval academies, a newspaper, telegraph and telephone lines, and he’s modernized the royal tax system. With everything running smoothly, he's finally willing to take on a quest.
Again, Hank emphasizes his superior knowledge and experience when he lists his various enterprises. But although he might know more than a sixth-century sage, it strains belief to accept that he knows enough about the army, navy, telecommunications, economics, and journalism and printing to create successful versions of each.
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