A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by

Mark Twain

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Merlin is a sorcerer who serves King Arthur. Because he represents (and draws his power from) superstition and belief, Merlin is a natural foil for Hank Morgan, and the two men maintain a professional rivalry throughout the book. Merlin fails to restore the fountain in the Valley of Holiness or to protect Sir Sagramore with his magic, but he gets the last laugh (literally) when he infiltrates the camp of Hank and his allies and enchants Hank into a coma at the end of the book. Merlin dies when he accidentally touches the electrified fence surrounding Hank’s base of operations.

Merlin Quotes in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

The A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court quotes below are all either spoken by Merlin or refer to Merlin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
).
Chapter 39 Quotes

So the world thought there was a vast matter at stake here, and the world was right, but it was not the one they had in their minds. No, a far vaster one was upon the cast of this die: the life of knight-errantry. I was a champion, it was true, but not the champion of the frivolous black arts, I was the champion of hard unsentimental common sense and reason. I was entering the lists to either destroy knight-errantry or be its victim.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), Sir Sagramore, Merlin
Page Number: 293-294
Explanation and Analysis:
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Merlin Character Timeline in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

The timeline below shows where the character Merlin appears in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Knights of the Table Round
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
Then Clarence’s face falls; Merlin is about to tell the long-winded and sleep-inducing story of how King Arthur got his... (full context)
Chapter 4: Sir Dinadan the Humorist
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Merlin’s tale puts everyone but Hank to sleep. Sir Dinadan wakes them up with a practical... (full context)
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
As the lords and ladies make off-color comments about Hank and his outfit, Merlin calms the crowd’s fear over the magical properties of Hank’s clothes with the “commonsense hint”... (full context)
Chapter 5: An Inspiration
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...Clarence replies that it’s impossible, due to the number of guards and the fact that Merlin has enchanted the dungeon to keep its prisoners in. (full context)
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
Hank has no patience for “old humbug” Merlin or the “chuckleheaded […] superstitions” his so-called magic relies on. But Clarence’s very real fear... (full context)
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...realizes that he might be called on to demonstrate his magical skills. And, in fact, Merlin does send Clarence back to ask Hank to specify the calamity. Fortunately, he recalls the... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Eclipse
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...monk falls silent. Hank follows his gaze and sees the beginning of the solar eclipse. Merlin shouts for Hank to be burned, but King Arthur stays the execution. Taking advantage of... (full context)
Chapter 7: Merlin’s Tower
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...wide to meet Hank the powerful magician. When he fails to perform any more miracles, Merlin insinuates that he is a sham. The next eclipse is more than two years away,... (full context)
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...to gather on the horizon, and Hank starts the show. In front of King Arthur, Merlin, and the assembled crowds, he offers Merlin the chance to magically protect his tower. Merlin... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Boss
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
Blowing up Merlin’s tower consolidates Hank’s power. Although it’s initially hard to accept that he’s really in the... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Pilgrims
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...prayers and repentance haven’t had an effect, the monks have sent for “The Boss” and Merlin to restore the miracle. Merlin is already there, working his charms. (full context)
Chapter 22: The Holy Fountain
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...form for two rival magicians to work at the same time. He will wait for Merlin to give up before he does his own magic. The abbot, confident in the authority... (full context)
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
In the morning, Hank visits the well, where Merlin is busy waving his arms and muttering incantations. He’s too busy to stop Hank from... (full context)
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...can restore the fountain, Hank promises the monks that he will try if or when Merlin fails. And he warns them that it is a difficult miracle. The monks aren’t surprised;... (full context)
Chapter 23: Restoration of the Fountain
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
By Saturday, despite waving his hands and generating a lot of smoke, Merlin has given up. He explains that a demon with an unpronounceable name has cursed the... (full context)
Chapter 26: The First Newspaper
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Nature vs. Nurture  Theme Icon
...buys a copy. It’s written in the best style of the 19th-century press. Headlines about Merlin’s embarrassment and the little social interest pieces are familiar to Hank, but they now sound... (full context)
Chapter 27: The Yankee and the King Travel Incognito
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...Taken aback, Hank stammers that he can’t read the king’s mind, only to realize that Merlin has claimed to be able to do so. Frantically trying to retain his reputation, Hank... (full context)
Chapter 39: The Yankee’s Fight with the Knights
New World vs. Old World  Theme Icon
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...the upcoming contest, which is not just a duel between men but between great magicians. Merlin is enchanting Sir Sagramore’s weapons and armor, and Hank has already shown himself to be... (full context)
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...a second challenge, this time with a sword, he catches Hank off guard. This gives Merlin the opportunity to sneak up and snatch away Hank’s rope. King Arthur is anguished to... (full context)
Chapter 42: War!
Nature vs. Nurture  Theme Icon
...birth, Hank’s schools won’t be able to reeducate them. Clarence established a secret base in Merlin’s old cave, protected by electric fences. Hank quizzes Clarence on the set-up of these fences,... (full context)
Imperialism  Theme Icon
Superiority, Power, and Authority Theme Icon
...and elect their new representatives. Clarence promulgates the proclamation, and he and Hank retreat to Merlin’s Cave. (full context)
Chapter 43: The Battle of the Sand Belt
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In Merlin’s Cave, Hank, Clarence, and their 52 “fresh, bright, well-educated, clean-minded […] British boys” wait for... (full context)
Chapter 44: A Postscript by Clarence
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Within a few days, Merlin arrives at the cave, disguised as a woman who was left behind when the remnants... (full context)