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!”

 

mark-twain

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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