Posted in Short Stories

Mark Twain’s “A Medieval Romance”

“My heart is full of bodings; yet all may still be well.”

“Tush, woman! Leave the owls to croak. To bed with ye, and dream of Brandenburgh and grandeur!”



In Mark Twain’s 1870 short story “A Medieval Romance”, unmarried Lady Constance gives birth to a baby and blames Lord Conrad. The only problem, and the reader knows this almost from the beginning, is that Lord Conrad is actually a woman.

This makes for a humorous and perhaps even racy story (at least by 1870 standards). I don’t think that Twain is making fun of gender roles although its not difficult to wonder why someone might come to that conclusion.

Speaking of conclusions, I think that’s where Twain is headed in this story. He does a great job of poking fun at a “happily ever after” ending. But he doesn’t do it by turning it into a sad ending. Since Lord Conrad’s secret may or may not give himself/herself a “way out” in this story, Twain simply prefers not to end it. He doesn’t really know a way out, either.

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