An Author and his work A Kid in King Arthurs Court

An Author and His Work :A Kid in King Arther’s Court
Research Term Paper An Author and His Work Mark Twain
was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens to John Marshal
Clemens and Jane Lampton Clemens. He was born on
November 30, 1835 in a small city called Florida, Missouri,
which had a population of one hundred people. “I increased
the population by one percent,” he said. “It is more than many
of the best men in history could have done for a town” (Cox,
7) Samuel, however did not live most of his life in Florida, but
moved around throughout his life. His family moved to
Hannibal, MO when he was four years old and that was
where he went to school. For the reason that there were no
public schools in Hannibal at the time, Sam was sent to a
private school taught by Mrs. Horr. He had to leave this
school at twelve years of age when his father died. There
wasn’t much money left to support the Clemens after John
Clemens died so Sam was forced to be apprenticed to Joseph
Ament. Ament owned a print shop and a newspaper called
Hannibal Courier. Here was where Sam would cut the last
strings connecting him to his childhood and become much of
an adult. The apprenticeship led Samuel to fame and fortune
in the future and opened his eyes to the world of literature.

(Cox, 23) The death of Samuel’s father had a strong effect on
him. Although he wasn’t very close to John, Sam felt guilt that
he hadn’t been a better son to his father and promised his
mother at the side of John’s body not to brake her heart and
to be a “better boy.” (Cox, 23) His time spent in Ament’s shop
was not paid, but he was fed and clothed. He learned to set
type and sometimes worked as reporter or assistant editor.

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Clemens found a great interest in reading during this time and
he truly read everything he could get his hands on. He also
began enjoying reading a large amount of history. Being
brought up in a family of slaveholders, Clemens experienced
a lot of brutality and injustice toward slaves. He was taught
that it was completely normal and legal for white men to kill
“niggers” over an awkwardly done job and he didn’t argue.

However, as a little boy, he felt inside that what his father did
was wrong and immoral. Many incidents and adventures with
slaves that young Sam witnessed wound up in his books
decades later. Clemens left Ament’s shop and went to work
with Orion, his older brother, in 1851. His brother offered to
pay three and a half-dollars a week but money never seemed
to be around. Orion owned a newspaper called the Hannibal
Journal and he hired both Sam and his younger brother Henry
to be typesetters. However, Sam did more than typeset for
Orion. He also wrote for the Journal occasionally. Usually he
wrote humorous sketches, but sometimes he also wrote
satirical stories, local news reports, and poetry. Samuel first
used the pen name Mark Twain for his letters published in the
Virginia City, Territorial Enterprise in 1863. Mark Twain is a
steamboater’s term meaning 2 fathoms or 12 feet of water.

Samuel’s childhood was probably where many of his ideas
and stories all originated. He used his adventures as a boy in
many novels, such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Life on
the Mississippi, and many others. There was an adventure
everyday during his life in Hannibal and his friends were just
as mischievous as Sam was. The novel A Yankee in King
Arthur’s Court was strongly influenced by Mark Twain’s life. It
showed the battle that was happening inside Twain between
his different feelings for slavery. It also showed Mark’s hate
towards any sort of authority. (Cox, 169) This was probably
provoked by his early days with his slaveholding family. He
saw many times as a child what “authority” could do to
innocent souls and it stayed in his heart for many decades.

The Civil War broke out in 1861 and Samuel Clemens
decided to side with the Confederacy unlike his whole family.

He joined a volunteering unit and fought with the Marion
Rangers for some time. Most of this time the small unit was
retreating and Sam said, “I could have become a good
soldier myself, if I had waited, I had got part of it learned, I
knew more about retreating than the man that invented
retreating.” (Cox, 49) During his life, Mark Twain always had
some trouble financially. He had had many jobs, but he was
often in need of money. When he worked as a pilot on the
Mississippi, Twain was receiving no pay for he was an
apprentice. During this time, he took a job watching freight
piles during the night for some money. He later said ” I can
trace the effect of those nights through most of my books in
one way and another.” (Cox, 41) After Civil War began,
Samuel had to find a new job for all river traffic was halted.

His brother, Orion was appointed secretary of the newly
created Territory of Nevada and he asked Sam to come
along. At first, Samuel was only going to stay in Nevada for
three months, but the three months later turned into six years.

In Nevada, Mark tried his luck in getting rich quickly by mining
and did not succeed. However, his years there gave him
much to write about. His first book was written during his time
there and was based on a fellow miner’s story. The book was
called “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country
and Other Sketches.” Throughout Twain’s life, there were
many deaths in his family. He felt depressed often because of
that and each death made him more pessimistic. During his
life, he experienced the death of his younger brother Henry,
his oldest daughter Susy, his son Langdon, his father John,
his other daughter Jean, his wife Olivia, his mother Jane, his
friend Charles Dudley Warner, and his brother Orion. Mark
Twain was widely recognized during his life. He was very
famous for his lectures, his humor, his criticisms, his novels,
and his articles. Twain wasn’t just famous in the United States
but also in foreign countries like England as well. During his
later years, Twain wrote many angry articles and editorials
denouncing government and sometimes Southern beliefs. He
received many angry letters during his last years of writing.

The deaths of more and more loved ones made him mad and
he expressed his emotions through his writing. After Twain’s
death however, his books live on and are world famous. He
showed the readers many things about themselves and
others. Not only are his novels still read but they are also still
discussed, criticized, analyzed, and examined repeatedly. His
works are so deep that just one look at a novel won’t let you
in on Twain’s reason for writing it. Howells said at Twain’s
funeral, ” Clemens was sole, incomparable, the Lincoln of
our literature.” (Cox, 220) The events in A Connecticut
Yankee in King Arthur’s Court take place in the sixth century
during the time of King Arthur. There are knights and ogres,
there are princes and princesses, and there are evil
magicians and immoral superstitions. In the sixth century,
there were no newspapers, no phones, no hygiene, no
cameras, and most importantly, no common sense. However,
this all changes when a Connecticut Yankee, Hank Morgan,
is hit in the head by a crowbar and wakes up in the sixth
century. He is a man of intellectual skills and he’s in deep
trouble. Hank is stuck in the age of violence, slavery, and
absolute non-sense without any idea of how to deal with the
situation. Hank finds a friend and decides to turn the savage
kingdom into a civilization and a republic. He sets up
underground factories in fear of the church and sets up secret
schools as well. He finds men who he believes to be worthy
and sends them to these schools. While trying to keep in
command over the kingdom, he is challenged to a battle and
has to go out on a voyage to become “worthy” of the
challenger. His adventures throughout the voyage are
sometimes life threatening, but using modern science, he
always manages to survive. Mark Twain uses satire and irony
in describing the beliefs of the common people. He shows
how silly their reasoning is using humor. He shows that, while
the nation is suffering from hunger and poverty, the people
are still loyal to the nobility. The nobility, which makes up five
percent of the nation, is eating up all the nations wealth while
the other ninety percent of the nation starve. The nation is
controlled by the five percent of the population that becomes
royalty by birth and doesn’t deserve it at all, while the rest of
the population have to labor and toil their whole lives and do
not get treated fairly. The plot, of course, is not realistic, but
very satisfying to read. It’s very funny and at the same time
serious. It discusses certain social issues that most people
notice but can’t say it the right way. Twain makes it exciting to
read, but if you look below the skin of the joke, you can notice
the point he’s trying to make about economics and
aristocracy. When the king goes with Hank to explore his
kingdom in disguise, he is captured and sold as a slave.

Twain uses this to show that a king is just as good as any
slave and that the only thing that separates him from a slave
is his title. He says in his book “there is nothing diviner
about a king than there is about a tramp, after all. He is just a
cheap and hollow artificiality when you do not know he is a
king. But reveal his quality, and dear me it takes your very
breath away to look at him.” The major theme of this novel is
the authority and aristocracy issue, but there are other small
themes hidden under Twain’s humor. One such theme is the
theme of work. Twain discusses work and pay in this
statement “The law of work does seem utterly unfair — but
there it is: the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker gets
out of it, the higher shall be his pay in cash also.” The
characters in this book were introduced and described
through their actions and through dialogue. The main
character, Hank Morgan, was almost absolutely a believable
character. Only a couple of his traits wouldn’t be very
believable. One being that he didn’t go crazy as soon as he
found out what had happened. If he was a real person, I don’t
think he would just accept the fact that he was in the sixth
century so quickly. I think that his other traits were pretty
much acceptable. He had normal human being traits like
being panicky and he wasn’t all good or all evil. There were
parts of him that weren’t angel-like. For example, he never just
proved somebody wrong; he always had to make the person
feel low and defeated. The other characters, like Sandy and
King Arthur, weren’t really believable. Compared to what is
considered normal now, they were actually not realistic at all.

However, the story takes place in the sixth century where the
characters would be more realistic than if compared to what is
considered normal now. Despite the fact that it was sixth
century, I still wouldn’t be able to imagine real people being
like King Arthur or Sandy. They were stereotypical just like all
the knights, Merlin, Clarence, and the other characters. This
novel wasn’t biographical at all. It showed Twain’s view on
certain issues, but it did not describe Twain’s life. The only
thing that might have been at all autobiographical, was the
fact that Hank Morgan didn’t fit in with his surroundings and
was trying to change everything around him. Maybe Twain
felt that he was surrounded by people who couldn’t
understand him. Maybe he only felt secure with several of his
friends just like Hank thought only certain men were “worthy”
in the sixth century. Hank Morgan was finally returned to the
nineteenth century after war broke out in Camelot. During that
war, nineteenth century science and fifty-four young men
stood against all of England’s knights and won a flawless
victory. Hank was injured and Merlin cast a spell on him that
brought him back to nineteenth century. Twain’s purpose in
writing this novel was to show the contrast between the sixth
and nineteenth centuries and to show the reader that similar
problems exist in both these times. He also brought up some
very serious social issues in a humorous way. This novel is
truly a work of genius. I enjoyed reading the book a lot. It was
exciting and humorous and the plot was really amusing. I
especially admired the way Twain wrote the same things that
wouldn’t be interesting if they weren’t written the way they
were. The way Twain described how Hank was
uncomfortable in the armor was an example of how as simple
a matter as that can be written so that it sounds interesting
and amusing. The way Twain put humor into sixth century
economy when talking to Dowley about wages was also
excellent. He showed how ignorant the sixth century men
were concerning economy. To them, the higher the wages,
the better, and it doesn’t matter what the prices are. No matter
how hard Hank tried to show that if prices are high, then
wages mean nothing, Dowley couldn’t understand. Just in
Bibliography:
Works Cited:
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Cox, Clinton. Mark Twain: America’s Humorist,
Dreamer, Prophet. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1995. Hunter,
Frank O. “Twain, Mark.” The World Book Encyclopedia, 1998
ed., Volume 19. Pg. 528-530
Kunitz and Haycraft. “Clemens,
Samuel Langhorne.” American Authors: 1600-1900. Pg.159-
161 “Mark Twain in Hartford” 28 May, 1995. Online. America
Online. www.courant.com/news/special/twain. 6 Feb. 1999
Meltzer, Milton. Mark Twain: A Writer’s Life. New York:
Franklin Watts, 1985. Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in
King Arthur’s Court. New York: Signet Classic “Twain, Mark.”
Biography Online Database. Online. America Online.

http://search.biography.com/print_record.pl?id=3500. 6
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