David Wilson, Hank, and Technology
Both Hank and David Wilson used science and technology to their advantage. In the novel Pudd’nhead Wilson, David Wilson is both a lawyer and a man of science. He was witty and intelligent, setting he apart from the people of Dawson’s Landing. He used his love for science and the necessary technology in fingerprinting to uncover who really was the murderer in the story. He was able to defend his clients and prove their innocence, as well as reveal the truth about other characters in the story, with the help of technology. On the other hand, Hank of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, used technology, specifically his knowledge about guns and fireworks, to survive in the backwardly Medieval world. His travel back in time would’ve cost him his life, if not for his proficiency in firearms manufacturing. He also introduced other “new” technologies and ideas to the people in order to make their lives much easier.
David Wilson’s and Hank’s theatrical power
David Wilson is a man who relies more on his intellect and reason rather than deception. Because of this, he is not much of a showman, usually resorting to scientific reasoning to go about his daily activities. Because of this, he has alienated most of the people in town, as they’re not able to relate to him and does not understand his wit. The people wouldn’t trust him with their legal work so he has to survive on odd jobs, while spending his free time with his scientific hobbies like fingerprinting. On the other hand, Hank is a showman, using his knowledge about what lies ahead, to his advantage. He came from the future and knew a lot of things about the past. He made the people believe that he is a sorcerer through his effective acting and knowledge.
Dream other dreams and better: Hank and failed Utopia
Hank, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, wanted to improve the world he’s in through the knowledge he acquired from the future. He’s referred to as a Yankee, which is Americans of the 19th century were referred to back then. He lived in a free world, and relied on technology to help ease the burden of the people’s daily lives. He lived in a “better world” so to speak, before he was sent back to the Medieval times. Because of this, it is not surprising that Hank wanted to change or improve the world and time he was sent too. His knowledge about science and technology came in handy, as he strived to changed as much as he can as possible. However, not everyone was happy with the change that Hank envisioned, and because of this, all of his plans crumbled.
Hank was almost successful with his mission to improve the world he was in. He started recruiting young people in his cause. His first step was to educate them, teach them about the essential things they need to know in their lives. He chose the young ones because their minds were still open, very malleable, unlike the old ones who were close-minded and unappreciative of change. After educating his recruits, he introduced them to technology, on how they would be able to utilize tools to make their lives easier. He did all of this behind the backs of the society’s rulers. However, all his plans and actions would go unnoticed.
Hank was able to do a lot of things because of his superior knowledge and grasp of the future. He was able to please many people, but still, there were those who hated him, grew jealous of his achievements. This could be a very important development in his desire to create a Utopian world. A world wouldn’t be utopian or ideal if someone is unhappy. It was a weakness in the system, and a weakness that proved very costly for Hank. Hank’s Utopia failed because he was not able to please everyone, and with that, he was returned to reality.
Metafiction in Pudd’nhead Wilson and Connecticut Yankee
Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court both use metafiction in telling the story. These are works of fiction that addresses fictional devices in telling the story, so that it effectively conveys the story’s message to the readers.
In Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, metafiction is evident in the characters of Tom and Chambers (Twain, 1984). They were switched when they were born, so Tom grew up as “Chambers”, and Chambers grew up as “Tom”. Because of this metafiction, we are able to compare how these characters turned out when they grew older. “Tom” grew up as a cruel coward, tormenting other people and even killing a man in the latter part of the story. On the other hand, “Chambers” grew up in a black community, assimilated their language and culture, even though he was really white. We can see that both of these characters are dysfunctional, wherein “Tom” basked in his power as an heir of a white family, while “Chambers” grew up confused, that even when he was recognized as the real Tom, he still had difficulty in blending in to both the white and black sides.
In Connecticut Yankee, metafiction is evident because the story was set in Medieval Europe, during King Arthur’s reign(Twain, 1889). Most of us may be familiar with King Arthur and his tale, but with metafiction, we see it in another perspective. We learn that Merlin wasn’t really the all powerful sorcerer, as he also uses the power of deception to his advantage. We are able to see how the story goes with the intervention of Hank from the 19th century.
Twain, M. (1889). A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Chatto and Windus.
Twain, M. (1984). Pudd’nhead Wilson: Bantam Classics.