A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court By Mark Twain Summary and Analysis Chapters 6-8

Summary

Hank feels rather proud of himself and is almost impatient for the next day so that he can be "the center of all the nation's wonder and reverence." All such feelings vanish, however, when the men at arms come to get him, telling him that the stake is ready and that the execution has been moved up a day. Clarence joins him on the way to the courtyard and proudly announces that he is responsible for getting the king to change the date.

Hank is chained to the stake, and a monk begins to pray over him. Suddenly he stops, looking into the sky. Hank follows his gaze and notices that the eclipse has begun. He makes good use of the situation, telling those gathered that he will allow the darkness to proceed for a time. If the king agrees in good faith to make him the king's "perpetual minister and executive" and pay him one percent of any new revenues which he creates, Hank will allow the sun to shine again. The king agrees to the terms and orders Hank freed and clothed in rich clothing. Finally, when Hank notices that the eclipse is total and that the sun will soon peak beyond the moon, he says, "Let the enchantment dissolve and pass harmless away," much to the relief of those present.

In his new role as second in command to the king, Hank is given fine clothing and a choice suite in the castle. As he accustoms himself to his new quarters, he notices things that are lacking — bells, speaking tubes, chromo pictures, gas, candles, books, pens, paper, ink, glass, sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, and many other things common to the nineteenth century.

In the meantime, the people of the kingdom are immensely interested in him. The eclipse frightened the whole kingdom, and everybody wants to see the magician who caused it. They flock in from all over the country to see him. It is clear that while they are there, they would like to see another miracle performed so they can carry the tale back to their villages.

The news that Merlin is busy spreading the idea that this "upstart" is a humbug causes Hank to decide that he will do something else. He has Merlin thrown into prison and then begins the preparations for having Merlin's tower blown to pieces by fire from heaven. Working with Clarence, he makes a great deal of blasting powder and constructs a lightning rod. They run wires from the lightning rod to caches of powder hidden throughout the tower. Then they wait until the weather is right.

At the first sign that there will be a storm, the event is announced to the people, and Hank has Merlin brought to him. He gives Merlin a chance to stop what is to take place, but Merlin cannot. So Hank, judging matters closely, waves his hand in the air three times, and the lightning strikes the lightning rod. There is a crash, fire spews forth, and the stones of the tower leap into the air. It is an effective miracle.

Hank, who is now known as The Boss, muses over the situation in which he finds himself. He has colossal power, and he plans to make some changes in the social and religious attitudes of the people so that they are more in line with what he thinks is right.

Analysis

After the great miracle, Hank could have demanded a title of nobility, but since he will later use all of his powers to destroy the concept of a privileged class of nobility, he refuses to ask for one; instead, he is extremely pleased with his newly invested title: He is The Boss, and known by this title, he will be admired and feared all over the kingdom. Ironically, The Boss wants to destroy the aristocracy, yet he fully enjoys the powers that he now has and plans to use them for his own advantages in the same way that the aristocracy uses their special privileges.

Furthermore, The Boss is filled with a need to be theatrical. Many of his actions are designed so as to bring a sense of applause to his own person; that is, he always seeks after the proper effect when he is performing a miracle. In Chapter 7, he makes sure that there are large numbers of people present to see his announced miracle of blowing up Merlin's castle. This act serves another purpose. In addition to bringing glory to The Boss, it discredits Merlin and, therefore, it allows The Boss to relax his guard.

In Chapter 8, Twain makes his first critique of the Roman Catholic Church. Later, he will continue his attacks on the Church in greater measure, but here he contents himself with commenting on how the Church has made common men into "worms"; thus, since the nation is composed largely of common men, the Church is responsible for making England "a nation of worms." He also questions here the duplicity of the church's helping to establish the concept about the "divinity of kings" and the "divine right of things." This only allows the aristocracy to treat the commoners in any way that the aristocracy so pleases. The Boss is determined to make the country into a republic where every man shall have an equal vote.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

By what name is Hank Morgan referred to throughout the novel?




Quiz