Study Guide

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Writing Style

By Mark Twain

Writing Style

Straightforward with Contrasts

The writing style is vital in conveying the main ideas of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Since it's told in the first person, it comes almost entirely from Hank's point of view, and through it, we see the sharp contrasts between his sensible workaday world and the high-flown land of Camelot. Hank uses small words and gets to the point of the matter—he might speak at length, but he chooses his words carefully and doesn't waste our time unnecessarily. For instance, notice the way he talks about inequalities in the kingdom:

The most of King Arthur's British nation were slaves, pure and simple. (8.3)

Bam—no fuss, no muss. We know exactly where things stand.

By contrast, the knights and ladies use fancy language and yammer on without getting to the point. Hank's style allows Twain to deliver smart, funny jabs, while the longer passages basically let Arthurian literature drown in its own excess. For example, check out the long exchange in Chapter 15 between Hank and Sandy. Hank cuts to the chase every time, while Sandy goes on for whole paragraphs and says absolutely nothing, causing Hank to actually lose track of the conversation sometimes:

"So they two departed and rode into a great forest. And—"

"WHICH two?"

[…]

But I lost the thread there, and dozed off to slumber... (15.2-8)

Apparently classic Arthurian literature can put even the bravest hero straight to sleep.

Sandy isn't the only one with a terminal case of the blathers. Merlin has a way of talking people into a coma too—"The old man began his tale; and presently the lad was asleep in reality; so also were the dogs, and the court, the lackeys, and the files of men-at-arms" (3.5)—and you can infer that most other people in the kingdom have the same tendencies.

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