Study Guide

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Slavery

By Mark Twain

Slavery

Twain railed against slavery in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and showed no signs of slowing down in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The peasants in Arthur's time are presented as enslaved by circumstance: calling themselves free, but still bound to their land and ruler, and unable to act as they wish. Hank hates slavery, and makes freeing everyone in England a big priority. It's tough going—Arthur needs to become enslaved himself before he understands it as a problem—and made all the more difficult by the fact that things like ignorance and fear enslave people in the book just as often as iron chains.

Questions About Slavery

  1. Does the fact that Hank is an American feed into his hatred of slavery? Why or why not?
  2. Why is it so hard for Arthur to see slavery as evil?
  3. Would the peasants act any differently if they were free from the nobles?
  4. What does Hank consider the cause of slavery in Arthur's Court? Who is specifically interested in keeping things the way they are and why?

Chew on This

Hank can beat slavery with education and knowledge, which naturally lead to freedom.

Education and knowledge are nice, but they won't necessarily make anyone free.