An Author and His Work :A Kid in King Arther’s CourtResearch Term Paper An Author and His Work Mark Twainwas born Samuel Langhorne Clemens to John MarshalClemens and Jane Lampton Clemens. He was born onNovember 30, 1835 in a small city called Florida, Missouri,which had a population of one hundred people. “I increasedthe population by one percent,” he said.
“It is more than manyof the best men in history could have done for a town” (Cox,7) Samuel, however did not live most of his life in Florida, butmoved around throughout his life. His family moved toHannibal, MO when he was four years old and that waswhere he went to school. For the reason that there were nopublic schools in Hannibal at the time, Sam was sent to aprivate school taught by Mrs. Horr.
He had to leave thisschool at twelve years of age when his father died. Therewasn’t much money left to support the Clemens after JohnClemens died so Sam was forced to be apprenticed to JosephAment. Ament owned a print shop and a newspaper calledHannibal Courier. Here was where Sam would cut the laststrings connecting him to his childhood and become much ofan adult. The apprenticeship led Samuel to fame and fortunein the future and opened his eyes to the world of literature.(Cox, 23) The death of Samuel’s father had a strong effect onhim. Although he wasn’t very close to John, Sam felt guilt thathe hadn’t been a better son to his father and promised hismother at the side of John’s body not to brake her heart andto be a “better boy.
” (Cox, 23) His time spent in Ament’s shopwas not paid, but he was fed and clothed. He learned to settype and sometimes worked as reporter or assistant editor.Clemens found a great interest in reading during this time andhe truly read everything he could get his hands on. He alsobegan enjoying reading a large amount of history. Beingbrought up in a family of slaveholders, Clemens experienceda lot of brutality and injustice toward slaves. He was taughtthat 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 didwas wrong and immoral. Many incidents and adventures withslaves that young Sam witnessed wound up in his booksdecades later.
Clemens left Ament’s shop and went to workwith Orion, his older brother, in 1851. His brother offered topay three and a half-dollars a week but money never seemedto be around. Orion owned a newspaper called the HannibalJournal and he hired both Sam and his younger brother Henryto be typesetters. However, Sam did more than typeset forOrion. He also wrote for the Journal occasionally. Usually hewrote humorous sketches, but sometimes he also wrotesatirical stories, local news reports, and poetry. Samuel firstused the pen name Mark Twain for his letters published in theVirginia City, Territorial Enterprise in 1863.
Mark Twain is asteamboater’s term meaning 2 fathoms or 12 feet of water.Samuel’s childhood was probably where many of his ideasand stories all originated. He used his adventures as a boy inmany novels, such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Life onthe Mississippi, and many others. There was an adventureeveryday during his life in Hannibal and his friends were justas mischievous as Sam was. The novel A Yankee in KingArthur’s Court was strongly influenced by Mark Twain’s life. Itshowed the battle that was happening inside Twain betweenhis different feelings for slavery. It also showed Mark’s hatetowards any sort of authority. (Cox, 169) This was probablyprovoked by his early days with his slaveholding family.
Hesaw many times as a child what “authority” could do toinnocent souls and it stayed in his heart for many decades.The Civil War broke out in 1861 and Samuel Clemensdecided to side with the Confederacy unlike his whole family.He joined a volunteering unit and fought with the MarionRangers for some time. Most of this time the small unit wasretreating and Sam said, “I could have become a goodsoldier myself, if I had waited, I had got part of it learned, Iknew more about retreating than the man that inventedretreating.” (Cox, 49) During his life, Mark Twain always hadsome trouble financially. He had had many jobs, but he wasoften in need of money. When he worked as a pilot on theMississippi, Twain was receiving no pay for he was anapprentice. During this time, he took a job watching freightpiles during the night for some money.
He later said ” I cantrace the effect of those nights through most of my books inone 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 newlycreated Territory of Nevada and he asked Sam to comealong. At first, Samuel was only going to stay in Nevada forthree months, but the three months later turned into six years.In Nevada, Mark tried his luck in getting rich quickly by miningand did not succeed. However, his years there gave himmuch to write about.
His first book was written during his timethere and was based on a fellow miner’s story. The book wascalled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras Countryand Other Sketches.” Throughout Twain’s life, there weremany deaths in his family.
He felt depressed often because ofthat and each death made him more pessimistic. During hislife, 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, hisfriend Charles Dudley Warner, and his brother Orion. MarkTwain was widely recognized during his life.
He was veryfamous for his lectures, his humor, his criticisms, his novels,and his articles. Twain wasn’t just famous in the United Statesbut also in foreign countries like England as well. During hislater years, Twain wrote many angry articles and editorialsdenouncing government and sometimes Southern beliefs. Hereceived many angry letters during his last years of writing.The deaths of more and more loved ones made him mad andhe expressed his emotions through his writing. After Twain’sdeath however, his books live on and are world famous.
Heshowed the readers many things about themselves andothers. Not only are his novels still read but they are also stilldiscussed, criticized, analyzed, and examined repeatedly. Hisworks are so deep that just one look at a novel won’t let youin on Twain’s reason for writing it. Howells said at Twain’sfuneral, ” Clemens was sole, incomparable, the Lincoln ofour literature.” (Cox, 220) The events in A ConnecticutYankee in King Arthur’s Court take place in the sixth centuryduring the time of King Arthur. There are knights and ogres,there are princes and princesses, and there are evilmagicians and immoral superstitions. In the sixth century,there were no newspapers, no phones, no hygiene, nocameras, 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 sixthcentury.
He is a man of intellectual skills and he’s in deeptrouble. Hank is stuck in the age of violence, slavery, andabsolute non-sense without any idea of how to deal with thesituation. Hank finds a friend and decides to turn the savagekingdom into a civilization and a republic. He sets upunderground factories in fear of the church and sets up secretschools as well. He finds men who he believes to be worthyand sends them to these schools. While trying to keep incommand over the kingdom, he is challenged to a battle andhas to go out on a voyage to become “worthy” of thechallenger.
His adventures throughout the voyage aresometimes life threatening, but using modern science, healways manages to survive. Mark Twain uses satire and ironyin describing the beliefs of the common people. He showshow silly their reasoning is using humor. He shows that, whilethe nation is suffering from hunger and poverty, the peopleare still loyal to the nobility. The nobility, which makes up fivepercent of the nation, is eating up all the nations wealth whilethe other ninety percent of the nation starve. The nation iscontrolled by the five percent of the population that becomesroyalty by birth and doesn’t deserve it at all, while the rest ofthe population have to labor and toil their whole lives and donot get treated fairly. The plot, of course, is not realistic, butvery satisfying to read.
It’s very funny and at the same timeserious. It discusses certain social issues that most peoplenotice but can’t say it the right way. Twain makes it exciting toread, but if you look below the skin of the joke, you can noticethe point he’s trying to make about economics andaristocracy. When the king goes with Hank to explore hiskingdom in disguise, he is captured and sold as a slave.Twain uses this to show that a king is just as good as anyslave and that the only thing that separates him from a slaveis his title. He says in his book “there is nothing divinerabout a king than there is about a tramp, after all. He is just acheap and hollow artificiality when you do not know he is aking. But reveal his quality, and dear me it takes your verybreath away to look at him.
” The major theme of this novel isthe authority and aristocracy issue, but there are other smallthemes hidden under Twain’s humor. One such theme is thetheme of work. Twain discusses work and pay in thisstatement “The law of work does seem utterly unfair — butthere it is: the higher the pay in enjoyment the worker getsout of it, the higher shall be his pay in cash also.
” Thecharacters in this book were introduced and describedthrough their actions and through dialogue. The maincharacter, Hank Morgan, was almost absolutely a believablecharacter. Only a couple of his traits wouldn’t be verybelievable. One being that he didn’t go crazy as soon as hefound out what had happened. If he was a real person, I don’tthink he would just accept the fact that he was in the sixthcentury so quickly. I think that his other traits were prettymuch acceptable.
He had normal human being traits likebeing panicky and he wasn’t all good or all evil. There wereparts of him that weren’t angel-like. For example, he never justproved somebody wrong; he always had to make the personfeel low and defeated. The other characters, like Sandy andKing Arthur, weren’t really believable. Compared to what isconsidered normal now, they were actually not realistic at all.However, the story takes place in the sixth century where thecharacters would be more realistic than if compared to what isconsidered normal now. Despite the fact that it was sixthcentury, I still wouldn’t be able to imagine real people beinglike King Arthur or Sandy. They were stereotypical just like allthe knights, Merlin, Clarence, and the other characters.
Thisnovel wasn’t biographical at all. It showed Twain’s view oncertain issues, but it did not describe Twain’s life. The onlything that might have been at all autobiographical, was thefact that Hank Morgan didn’t fit in with his surroundings andwas trying to change everything around him. Maybe Twainfelt that he was surrounded by people who couldn’tunderstand him. Maybe he only felt secure with several of hisfriends just like Hank thought only certain men were “worthy”in the sixth century.
Hank Morgan was finally returned to thenineteenth century after war broke out in Camelot. During thatwar, nineteenth century science and fifty-four young menstood against all of England’s knights and won a flawlessvictory. Hank was injured and Merlin cast a spell on him thatbrought him back to nineteenth century. Twain’s purpose inwriting this novel was to show the contrast between the sixthand nineteenth centuries and to show the reader that similarproblems exist in both these times. He also brought up somevery serious social issues in a humorous way.
This novel istruly a work of genius. I enjoyed reading the book a lot. It wasexciting and humorous and the plot was really amusing. Iespecially admired the way Twain wrote the same things thatwouldn’t be interesting if they weren’t written the way theywere.
The way Twain described how Hank wasuncomfortable in the armor was an example of how as simplea matter as that can be written so that it sounds interestingand amusing. The way Twain put humor into sixth centuryeconomy when talking to Dowley about wages was alsoexcellent. He showed how ignorant the sixth century menwere concerning economy.
To them, the higher the wages,the better, and it doesn’t matter what the prices are. No matterhow hard Hank tried to show that if prices are high, thenwages mean nothing, Dowley couldn’t understand. Just inBibliography:Works Cited: “Clemens, Samuel Langhorne.” Webster’s American Biographies. Pg. 207 “Clemens, SamuelLanghorne (Mark Twain, pen name).
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Pg. 528-530 Kunitz and Haycraft. “Clemens,Samuel Langhorne.” American Authors: 1600-1900. Pg.159-161 “Mark Twain in Hartford” 28 May, 1995.
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