Study Guide

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Supernatural

By Mark Twain

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The Supernatural

Superstition ain't the way, as Stevie Wonder tells us, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court does a great job of showing us why. Belief in magic, ogres, witchcraft, and devils creates fear in the Arthurian world, which people like Merlin and the Church use to control people. We don't actually get the supernatural much here—in Twain's mind, it's hogwash—but people's belief in it still plays a huge part in the book. Hank's ability to see through superstition—to view the ogres as pigs and the magic as a confidence game—gives him the power to solve a staggering number of problems. But even he can't get rid of it entirely: he has to pretend he's a wizard when doing his thing so that the people he helps won't freak out.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Why does Hank need to pretend that his engineering feats are magic?
  2. How does superstition give people like Merlin power in the book?
  3. Why are almost none of the supernatural elements of the book real? How do people's fears feed into them?
  4. How does a good character like Arthur benefit from the common people's superstitions?

Chew on This

Fear of the supernatural is Hank's biggest obstacle in Camelot.

Hank's biggest obstacles are more direct… like Merlin and Sir Sagramor trying to kill him.

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