Date of Defense
Dr. John Cooley
Dr. Bradley Hayden
When Mark Twain was writing A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court during the 1880s, the quest for women's rights was strongly advancing in America. Many women had tired of the Victorian stereotype that trapped them in a domestic sphere. They wanted their rights, and their demands centered on their right to vote, just as the black man had been allowed to vote by the 15th Amendment in 1870. They had helped the black man gain this power through the abolition movement, which many suffragettes supported, and they wanted to have this kind of power themselves. Like other Americans, Twain was well aware of the fight for women's rights and had his own ideas about women and power. This would naturally have become a part of his novel, even if only subconsciously. The women in Yankee, like the women in Twain's life, show characteristics of both sides. The "good girls" lean hard toward the stereotypical side. They are all morals and femininity, and they use what power they have for the advancement of their men. The women who have power and use it for their own fulfillment are Twain's "bad girls," and they are invariably punished for their actions.
Canfield, Christine, "Mark Twain and the Limits of Women's Power as Shown in His LIfe and His Novel "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"" (1995). Honors Theses. 1321.
Honors Thesis-Campus Only