The typical American is always portrayed as a very confident person in almost every aspect of life. In A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain reveals Hank Morgan to be a typical American and thus also as very confident. We can see this confidence shine through when Hank tells the public that he will blow up Merlin’s stone tower in Chapter 7.
Ironically, the word conman is derived from the words confidence and man. Conmen are known to obtained confidence from the people they trick. Hank Morgan is considered a conman since he is gaining confidence from the entire kingdom while trying to trick them into believing that he is some sort of magician/prophet/god. In Chapter 7, Hank blows up Merlin’s tower with what today’s age would be considered a simple scientific reaction to produce an explosion: blasting (gun) powder, lightning rod, and of course lightning itself. However, with their lack of knowledge, people in the 6th century were amazed by the detonation that occurred. This type of ‘magic’ allowed Hank to be praised among the people.
Furthermore, Hank allows Merlin to use his ‘magic’ for a mere second before the explosion occurs. This was to show the people that Merlin’s powers were no match for Hank’s ‘power’. We can see that Hank is trying to override Merlin’s position and tricking the public into believing he is more powerful than Merlin. This would be a great defeat not only was Merlin well liked among the kingdom and looked towards during times of need during that time period but he was high on the latter in the nobility circle.
As with most people, Hank wanted to inform the readers of his fraud for our shear enjoyment. Pure amusement from Hanks con work can be seen when he asks for Merlin to be by his side while the tower explodes. Hank wanted Merlin to be there so his biggest competitor was next to him when he defeated him. Moreover, Hank says “Step to the bat, it’s your innings.” More than likely, Merlin has no idea what this statement means considering baseball didn’t start till mid 19th century. However this statement to constantly used to ask people to try raise the mark enough though it’s most likely they will fail. Additionally, Hank goes into detail of Merlin’s failed enchantments as almost a mockery saying that he was going about it in “a sort of frenzy, and got to thrashing around with his arms like the sails of a windmill.” Hank then proceeds to say “It is plain your magic is weak” for the people to hear. In general, people love to ridicule their competitor especially in front of other people right before they are defeated.
So the question is, don’t we all have a little bit of conman in us and Hank is just more open about it? I mean deep down don’t you like the feeling of beating your biggest competition whether in sports or school? I know I will always remember the soccer game where we beat the section champs and the looks on the other team faces. It filled my stomach with pure ecstasy to defeat them in front of their home crowd.