Delusion, Lucidity, and the Imposition of Will: Mark Twain’s Hank Morgan as the Anti-Don QuixoteDelusion, Lucidity, and the Imposition of Will: Mark Twain’s Hank Morgan as the Anti-Don Quixote Delusion, Lucidity, and the Imposition of Will: Mark Twain’s Hank Morgan as the Anti-Don Quixote
Abstract Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), has been compared to Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605) in terms of the conflict between modern and traditional values encountered by the protagonists of both novels. While Connecticut Yankee protagonist Hank Morgan is commonly viewed as “a sort of Quixote in reverse” (Wonham, 165), the assertion here is that Hank Morgan and Don Quixote are directly analogous in terms of each man’s intense desire to impose his will on his environment in a way he is convinced will be beneficial to it, and that success or failure in these attempts is determined by whether the protagonist’s mindset is characterized by delusion (Don Quixote) or lucidity (Hank Morgan). In this respect, Hank Morgan is much more of a Don Quixote analogue than is Tom Sawyer, despite the latter’s Quixote-like obsession with adventurous, romantic fiction. In reversing the motifs of delusion and lucidity from where Cervantes placed them while maintaining the protagonist’s intention to alter his world, Twain creates a hero whose adventures exemplify what he views as Cervantes’ humorous critique of literary knight-errantry and its associated social and political institutions.