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January 04, 2009

The Recipients of Good Fortune in Mark Twain's "Luck"

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Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2009 04:23 PM

Readers' Comments:

29 January 2007


Discuss Twain's "Luck" below . . .

Good Luck & I’ll See You Wednesday!

~Lee Hobbs

Using the dominant force in contemporary literary studies, I have decided to use the New Critical/Formalist approach to explain the connection with the reading by Mark Twain called “Lucky”. This reading emphasizes on the detailed explanation of Lord Arthur Scoresby. This story is more of a contemporary reading of how many people characterize each other.
Lord Arthur Scoresby is at a banquet in his honor because people feel he is a great achiever in life (242). He went through the military and worked his way up to being a captain in a marching regiment (243). He did this much easier than anyone else could have. But he had a lot of help. He was crammed and tested with the same questions that he would need to know while the other very smart people who studied, did not do as well as Scoresby. I feel this is more contemporary because now days, unfortunately for some people, to get by easier in life, you have to know certain people and make your way through. This is not always fair, but it is true on different occasions. People thought that Scoresby was a lucky man, and a fool, because of how he got by so easy in life. But in a way, he kind of cheated and made his way through, but he made it a long way and ended up being a hero against the Russians in the Crimean war (244).

~Deidra K.

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at January 29, 2007 06:36 PM

“Luck” was written by Mark Twain in 1891. Twain wrote this story to convey luck, and how individuals can become lucky. Some major issues that Twain deals with is luck, and how it effects people. In the story “Luck” Twain narrates a story about Lieutenant-General Lord Author Scoresby and his journey to Lieutenant-General. About forty years ago since the story was written, Scoresby took his examination for the military. However, Scoresby was not smart enough to pass this exam. Furthermore, he would have failed the test miserably. Feeling bad, a clergymen, who was the instructor of the military exam at the time, helped Scoresby prepare for the exam. The clergymen told Scoresby exactly what would be on the exam. By doing this, Scoresby surprisingly remembered everything that he studied, and passed the test with flying colors (243).
Than in 1853, the Crimean War broke out. Scoresby was appointed caption in the marching regiment. This angered Twain because how could a guy like Scoresby hold such responsibility? Plus, everybody thought that Scoresby was a “genius” Which was upsetting because in fact, he was not. Surprising, Scoresby prevailed, and won the war against Russia.
Now, Scoresby is being honored at a banquet in London in honor of one of the three conspicuously illustrious English military names of his generation (242). Still, many do not know of his ignorance, and of his stupidity.
This story fits into Twain’s career because, the events are based on a true story, which Twain was present in. Also, as a writer, inspiration from stories can come from anywhere, and a lifestyle like Scoresby is only one that you find in a book.

Posted by: Tatiana Mack at January 29, 2007 07:59 PM

Lyndsay Krall

New Critical/Formalist

A major aspect of Mark Twain’s “Luck” is that the story is a cross between being born a fool or being born lucky. The action is a banquet, held in honor of Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby, one of the illustrious English military names of the generation. This much seems clear, but to the clergyman, the precise nature of Scoresby’s position as captain of a marching regiment is not. In the story, the clergyman states that privately, Scoresby is an absolute fool. Clergyman now, but had spent the first half of his life as an instructor in the military school at Woolwich where he had mentored Scoresby because for pity sake he didn’t know anything. Purely by “cramming”, Scoresby went through with flying colors on examination day, and got compliments too. Could this particular type of study actually be a result from studying, or just being lucky?
Even at the story’s end these uncertainties remain. For this reason one may conclude that Twain deliberately creates the uncertainties to reveal how people like Scoresby seem to be what is considered lucky, or simply being in the right place at the right time.

Posted by: Lyndsay Krall at January 30, 2007 12:24 PM


Professor Hobbs,

Mark Twain’s story, “Luck”, discusses the issue of good fortune and whether it really does happen by chance, or if our actions influence positive outcomes. I chose to look at the moral/intellectual critical approach to this story, because the Robert’s text states that through this approach the reader can decide whether the story supports a particular lesson, and whether the reader can benefit from it or not, and I think that “Luck” can teach its readers something who take time to analyze it.

“Luck” has a lesson similar to the old cliché, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Although the Reverend stated several instances where General Scoresby had no idea about the subject being discussed, he also stated various instances where Scoresby was very knowledgeable and successful. Scoresby aced the mathematics exam, and in my experience, it is very hard to get a good grade on math exams without understanding the concepts very well. Scoresby was also ranked high enough to take over for the colonel. I think that Scoresby’s talents were overlooked by the Reverend based on what he saw in him previously.

Even though the story is titled “Luck”, I think that Mark Twain wrote it in a way so that the reader could make their own decisions about Scoresby. Some readers may have read “Luck” and said that Scoresby was simply lucky, and others may agree that he must have worked hard enough during his military experience to have a banquet in his honor years later.

Jen Naugle
Humanities Literature MWF 11:45-12:45

Posted by: Jen Naugle at January 30, 2007 03:53 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In the story called “Lucky”, Mark Twain, the author, accounts for a story told to him by his reverend friend about a “fool” in the English military. To the reverend, this “fool”, Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby, seems to have a great amount of luck that helps him to continually achieve a higher rank in the military, despite his concealed stupidity. During the Crimean War, the colonel of the army dies in battle and leaves the direction of the army to the next man in line which happened to be Scoresby. To this the reverend replies that everyone will very soon be in Sheol, the Hebrew word for hell. His reason for saying this is because he believes Scoresby will make a huge mistake, like he normally does, and this time he will not get lucky, he will cause a huge catastrophe. Even though Scoresby was seen to be an idiot in the eyes of some, he somehow seemed to become lucky with every choice he made. Scoresby worked himself up in rank from a student at Woolwich military academy to holding the title of captain in the marching regiment, all the way to the position of colonel of the whole army, all by his good fortune.

Stephanie Vrabel

Posted by: Stephanie Vrabel at January 30, 2007 04:07 PM

April H.

The short story “Luck,” by Mark Twain can be categorized into the New Critical/Formalist literary studies. New criticism focuses on literary text, such as the short story “Luck,” in which that it targets different formal works of art. In much greater detail the New Critical/formalists approach emphasizes on the importance of detailed explanations of poems and of an entire passage. It also uses a certain outline of required material such as the point of view, tone, plot, characters, and structure to generate the story. In relation to this idea I believe “Luck” falls into the category of a short passage of a literature story. The story has well rounded characters, a great plot, and a certain structure that allows people to understand the purpose of the authors reasoning’s.
The most important question that the literary device aims for is “what specifically does a work say?” Ultimately it is asking if the author is getting his point across in a well thought out form. For example in the story, “Luck” the main topic is based on luck. Mark Twain goes into great detail about the plot of the story, but at the same time he utilizes a way to refer everything to luck. He creates a character, Scoresby, that is made out to be something his not. He is a low ranked officer, however by some chance he ends up becoming the top ranked officer due to certain events in the story. He creates this event in order to get his point across.
Overall the New/Critical formalists approach relates to this story because it utilizes different techniques to the short story. It also gives details about the plot, characters, tone, and structure. The story follows the same format as the New/Critical approach. The story has a valuable meaning behind the plot. It teaches a lesson on how life can be so unfair for some, but luck can find a way through certain people who may not deserve what they get. Furthermore, Mark Twain created a setting in which luck can be based on certain events and people.

Posted by: April Hunsberger at January 30, 2007 04:16 PM

30 January 2007
Professor Hobbs

Mark Twain’s “Luck” raises the issue of “luck” and beating the system to get ahead. In this short instance of a telling of an unspecified Lieutenant, a man’s intellect worthiness is put in exposure for examination. According to Twain’s old acquaintance, the Reverend explained how this “man” referred to as Scoresby was not to be admired but to be viewed as a fool incapable of any rational thinking all of which in essence suggest that the banquet they were in attendance to celebrate Scoresby was a joke. The question to be pondered is if the Reverend speaks out of spite or is in fact being sincere in his accusations.

According to a detailed account that Twain full hearted believed to be true, Scoresby really was a fool. The Reverend explained how he had gone to great measures after seeing Scoresby’s lack of intelligence and knowledge to help the fellow prepare to pass his tests. Is the Reverend’s act of a pity ethical? Was it his responsibility to test the destiny that fate had planned for another individual? Continuing in his story, he went to on to explain how he drilled Scoresby on material that would be included on the tests so he would be able to retain the information long enough to succeed. This is obviously cheating in anyone’s eyes. Just because it was done in good intentions, should someone of great honor like a Reverend have participated in such actions?

As soon as Scoresby passed everything and did indeed succeed over other men of greater credibility, the Reverend realized how big of a mistake he had made by helping this man. Since they were in a war, Scoresby would actively be involved and would be subject to show his true intelligence to others without The Reverend’s help to prepare him. Now, in such a dangerous situation filled with such great responsibilities and risks, should the Reverend have done what would be safest for the troops and admit his own actions? In the end Scoresby’s stupidity ends up saving the day and is seen as a great hero. The Reverend is in great regret of his creation and now realizes how deep the damages of his helpfulness could have been if there wouldn’t have been so much luck involved. Should the Reverend be so silent in his knowledge after such a scare? Wouldn’t it be in his best interest to save others from future harm by reporting the truth even if he is punished for his wrongfulness in the end?

Bettina Herold
ENGL121.003 Humanities Lit. MWF 1145-1245

Posted by: Bettina Herold at January 30, 2007 07:01 PM

“Luck” By Mark Twain

In order to critique the story “Luck” by Mark Twain I have decided to use the Moral/Intellectual Approach. In the story Arthur Scoresby attends a military academy where he is not exactly the brightest student of the bunch. Therefore, one of the instructors feels as though it is their responsibility to help him study for his examinations. While most would expect him to fail these examinations, he amazingly passes them with flying colors. Then, continues to remain lucky as he moves up in rank and becomes victorious. After reading “Luck” the question that we are all left with is that of luck: is there such a thing as luck or is it just a silly superstition?
Luck is defined as good fortune by chance. In this case Arthur Scoresby received the good fortune of passing the examinations by cramming. But was that luck? Luck doesn’t happen to everyone and that is what causes people to have different perspectives on luck. In the story Arthur Scoresby is said to be lucky for this to happen to him. The secret of his “cramming” was never known to anyone, except him and his instructor. It was luck that this never broke out that he was getting help. But, was this really luck or did he just have really good short term memory?
If it were luck then good for him, but where will that bit of lucky “cramming” get him in the military. Everything he learns in the academy will make him a better leader in the military itself. But, as the war began officers were lost and luckily for Scoresby he got pushed up further and further in rank. Then, when he is victorious over the Russians he is said to be a genius, when truly he luckily went the wrong way. As most found Scoresby to be a genius, it was found that he was “an absolute fool” (245). A fool because he never really learned everything, he luckily just had good fortunes placed upon him. Overall, it was pure luck that he was even in the military.

Katie Kovac
English 121 003

Posted by: Katie Kovac at January 30, 2007 07:24 PM

Mark Twain’s story Luck is easily analyzed through the historical/topical critical approach. This approach emphasizes how the time period has an impression on the story vicariously through the author.
This story written by Twain in 1884 has a lot of references to the time period it was written during. Twain uses language reflected upon the people of this time. He also paints a picture in your mind of the Crimean war and how the Russians were out done by the less equipped English. As stated in our text the language, difficult to understand, in the historical critical approach is used frequently. (WAL pg.183.5) Also as we discussed in class Monday the 29th, words such as shiel and prodigious are words not commonly understood by people of modern time.
Mark Twain uses this anecdote to tell a story of something in his life? He could be trying to tell a story of someone he knew or maybe him himself?

Thomas Nolf

Posted by: Thomas Nolf at January 30, 2007 07:47 PM

Interpreting “The Luck” in a moral and intellectual way one comes to realize some things about this story. First of, this story provides an anecdote which is that having luck could be a good thing or a bad thing. A good example of this is this whole battle time promotions that the men in Lt. General Scoresby’s platoon encountered, it was lucky for the men who lived but unlucky for the men who died. Also at Lt. General Scoresby’s banquet, even though he’s being honored and praised the clergyman describes him as being a fool because he realizes who Scoresby really is being that he used to be an instructor at the military school. One of the quotes I thought best described this was at the end when the clergyman mentions “they are proof that the very best thing in all this world that can befall a man is to be born lucky.”(245, WAL)

Posted by: Pat Bautista at January 30, 2007 07:53 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The new criticism approach of this short story “Luck” by Mark Twain begins in London at a banquet, honoring Lieutenant--General Lord Arthur Scoresby. At this moment the reader is probably thinking why this man is being honored? We would soon later find out.
The Man sitting next to Mark Twain is a “clergyman” who we later find out is a Reverend and an old friend of Mark’s. He knows a secret that no other man is aware of. He states that Scoresby is “an absolute fool” (242). That statement came as a big surprise to Mark and well as the readers. I’m sure the readers are questioning why there would be a banquet celebrated for someone considered a fool? Seems rather contradictory to the banquets purpose.
By the end of this story we come to learn that the reverend had fed Scoresby all his knowledge, explaining examples in which he had taught him throughout the years. Scoresby was considered the “supremest ass in the universe” retaining no knowledge other than what the Reverend crammed into his head; even “mistaking his right hand from left” (244). Scoresby seemed as though he had been a man who was born lucky, but still “an absolute fool” ( 245).

Tina W

Posted by: Tina W at January 30, 2007 07:58 PM

Lauren Wozniak

The New Critical/formalist critical approach emphasizes detailed examination and explanation. It helps explain the content of the works with the insight needed for evaluating the piece of work.
The New Critical/formalist critical approach helps readers to understand “Luck” by explaining in detail where the story is taking place and what is going on. Mark Twain describes where the banquet is, and who it is in honor for. Twain also describes exactly what the General accomplished and did not accomplish in life. He explained all of his mistakes and made it clear to the readers that he succeeded in life on luck, which was the point of the story.

Posted by: Lauren Wozniak at January 30, 2007 08:17 PM

Lorin Gdula


When studying literature in a moral or intellectual way you have to look deep into the text, studying every little thing, for it could possibly turn out to be something you probably never even realized by reading it through the first time. In Luck a reverend helped a young man study and cram so he could do well on these exams but he really didn’t want him to do well he just felt bad for him. But he kept helping him Scoresby kept succeeding. All the other men tried so hard and were not getting as much attention as Scoresby; while in return, Scoresby was getting all these metals.

I think the moral of the story was that the reverend ended up feeling bad because he made it seem like Scoresby wasn’t capable of doing this all on his own and the narrator created an illusion to make it seem that he was capable from going to knowing just about nothing to accomplishing so much. You just question whether Scoresby was acting and just taking in everything the reverend said and using it as an advantage towards the others or if he truly didn’t know a lot about anything. It’s hard to say what Scoresby really wanted out of this. Was he truly a fool? Or did he just not show every enough what he really was made of and that he was really capable of doing this on his own.

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at January 30, 2007 08:20 PM

Mark Twain’s short story “Luck” is relevant to historical context of the Crimean of the 19th century. Twain exemplifies the ideologies of Luck versus hard work. He tells the story of Lieutenant General Lord Author Scoresby, whom is being awarded at a banquet in London. Scoresby is awarded for his bravery and ability to guide troops during the war.

The clergymen told the story of how Lieutenant Scroesby is a fool. He stated how everyone his “idiotic blunders”, when he accompanied him to Crimean during the war. This story is based on historical facts of the Crimean War, however depicts the symbolism of pure luck versus hard work. Scoresby never experienced hard work because he was always blessed with luck throughout the story.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at January 30, 2007 08:51 PM

Dr. Lee Hobbs
In class we were assigned to read the short story titled “Luck” by Mark Twain. In Luck, Mark Twain explains the moral of the story by the meaning of luck through Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby and the Crimean war. It starts out at a banquet which is being held for one extraordinary English Military man. Through out the entire banquet they withhold his real name and address him by Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby. In this story he is portrayed to be an “absolute fool” (page 242 Roberts).

In “Luck” the issue that is being brought up is Scoresby was all around just lucky his entire life and nobody knows it but the narrator of the story and Scoresby himself. I previously stated that the narrator withheld his real name, in order to save that individual from embarrassment. Since this story is based on the Crimean War, which leads us to believe that the story is true. This story portrays a simple message about luck, which is basically being at the right place at the right time. The main idea this story brings up is Scoresby being able to be so lucky, and the ideas to support the ideas are great. I believe that Mark Twains “Luck” helps people or the readers to understand and and lead better lives as well as understand the world better, and to realize that luck doesn’t happen to anyone.


Posted by: Brooke Decker at January 30, 2007 08:51 PM

Moral/Intellectual Response
In the short story, Luck by Mark Twain, a blundering fool by the name Scoresby is known as a brilliant military mind. He is well decorated and being honored at a banquet, which Mark Twain happens to attend. During the banquet of this prestigious military mind only to find a old friend who happens to be a man of the clergy. The clergyman lets Twain in on a secret, Scoresby is a fool. Since he was a trusted man of the church, he believed the story of how it is better to be lucky then be good.
The clergyman, who helped instruct Scoresby as a young cadet at a military academy, knew him for being an idiot who does not know his right from left. He only knew and studied one thing at a time but yet by luck that is what he was quizzed upon every time. When he would make a grave error, someway only by luck, it would turn into a pot of gold. Once he earned command on the battlefield by default, he led his troops to the slaughterhouse. But once again, luck is Scoresby’s middle name. The Russian troops thought his blunder was part of a brilliant counterstrike that would wipe them out. That was not the case; he had misinterpreted his instruction to fall back. This essay proves that it is not always best to be good, but good to be lucky.

Posted by: Greg Crossland at January 30, 2007 08:59 PM

Melisa Parsons
January 29,2007


Luck is a presence that I believe can be positive or negative and many people have different opinions on this subject. Some people believe that we are born with good luck or cursed with bad luck , I believe that these people do not live their life realistically. Then, there are other people who do not believe in luck at all they believe in a higher power which is their faith and they believe that everything will be fine as long as they stay faithful. There are other people who do not believe in luck or a higher power they believe that in order to succeed in life they have to work hard to get what they want and or need.
I do not believe in good or bad luck. I believe in “God “ and also believe that we should work to get what we want. Hard work will determine one’s future, if you work hard in life you will be rewarded and if you do not you will not be rewarded. My opinion what you get out of life is what you put into life.

Posted by: melisa Pasrons at January 30, 2007 09:59 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The moral and intellectual approach deals with searching the literature for some kind of teaching or message that the writer is trying to convey. The purpose of the story’s moral ending may be to improve the quality of their own lives or to gain an appreciation of the world around them. This type of approach can also lead the reader to decide if the moral of the story is accepted and valued in their own life.
In the story called “Lucky”, Mark Twain, the author, accounts for a tale told to him by his reverend friend about a man in the English military. To the reverend, this man, Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby, is an absolute “fool” whose good fortune seems to help him in continually achieving a higher rank in the military. Scoresby, originally a student at Woolwich military academy, was able to work his way up to becoming the colonel of the whole army.
A potential moral of this story is to not judge a person just on an impression. To the reverend, Scoresby was nothing more than a fool who got lucky and succeeded in times where he should have failed. Though the reverend might have thought he knew Scoresby very well, he might not have known him well enough. For instance, Scoresby might have understood that cramming the night before was enough time for him to comprehend the material, especially with the help of a professional. He also might have known more about the Russians plan than the reverend thought he did during the Crimean War.
Another possible moral of this story may be that you cannot completely rely on luck in life. Scoresby’s accomplishments were seen to be greatly influenced by luck, though, in the general population a person needs more than luck to succeed in life. In order for someone to achieve their goals, it is very important that they work hard to get there, and to actually understand their job.

Stephanie Vrabel

Posted by: Stephanie Vrabel at January 30, 2007 10:06 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The moral or intellectual critical approach centers on determining whether or not a story includes a moral lesson. This approach is based on stories having a demonstration of right or wrong included in them. Simply put, this approach is focused on identifying a moral lesson within a story, to enable the readers to learn from.

The moral lesson included in “Luck” focuses on living your life in such a way so you will not regret decisions later on. It was unmoral for the Reverend to help Scoresby just because he did not want Scoresby to look ridiculous. Unfortunately for the Reverend, his unethical decision to help Scoresby not only helped Scoresby blend in, but also allowed him to get a leadership position which he should have never received. To this day, the Reverend regrets what he did, because he knows he should not have helped Scoresby and there were more qualified men for the position that Scoresby received. Many intelligent men were ranked lower than Scoresby, because he received help.

Therefore, it is important to live your life always thinking about the future. Never dwell on something in the present that you may regret later on in life. You should always do what you think is right for the present and the future.

Thank you for your time,
Jaime Hersh

Posted by: Jaime Hersh at January 30, 2007 10:13 PM

Jenny Troutman
ENGL 121 – Humanities Literature
“Luck” Assignment

“Luck” Topical/Historical

“Luck” was about a man named Lieutenant – General Lord Arthur Scoresby and he wasn’t quite the brightest in math but he was considered a fool. Scoresby would get appraisal from anything he supposedly “accomplished” as a lieutenant. Scoresby was also known as a hero from the Crimean War. Other soldiers couldn’t understand why he would be honored with so many medals and people appraising him like he is an intelligent and bright. They had a banquet in honor of him and the clergyman was telling the story of Lieutenant – General Lord Arthur Scoresby.

Scoresby was a well known General but most soldiers and people who were under him, knew that he wasn’t bright in math. Scoresby would “cram” information in and then later on forget everything a few hours later on. When the Crimean War broke out, they put Scoresby in charge. Since he didn’t do well in math, he never knew how to count or he couldn’t tell his men how many soldiers were coming upon them.

People have known him as a sweetest and loving person but he wasn’t bright as many people. Scoresby would present and show off all his shinning medals and everyone would honor and praise him for a job well done. Scoresby had medals from all of the worlds and basically he was born lucky. Even though he as born lucky, he was still considered as a fool.

Posted by: Jenny Troutman at January 30, 2007 10:29 PM

Dr. Hobbs,

While reading the Mark Twain story of "Luck", I kept thinking that the Reverend was just jealous of Scoresby, so I thought I would look into it a bit.

Luck of the Genius

In Mark Twain’s short story, Luck, Twain relates a party which he attended to celebrate the achievements of one of his esteemed friends, Lord Arthur Scoresby. He speaks with one of Scoresby and his mutual friends, a clergyman, learning that Scoresby is actually “an absolute fool” (Twain 360). Twain does not think twice about the Reverend’s opinion, but accepts it as true, knowing the Reverend to be “a man of strict veracity and … his judgment of men was good” (Twain 361). However, why would a man decorated for his glorious achievements in battle, who attained first prize in his testing for the military position (Twain 361) , be a fool? How could he be when his genius was clearly seen on the battle field and in life? Lord Scoresby is far from being a fool, only he is greatly underestimated by (and perhaps makes jealous) his friend the Reverend.
Throughout the story, Twain ‘listens’ quietly as the Reverend rails off recollection after recollection of Scoresby’s shortcomings and lack of intelligence. He explains how he felt sorry for the boy, and in not wanting him to fail miserably at his tests, the Reverend crammed Scoresby’s mind full of knowledge and waited, trying to make the blow of failure fall just a bit less harshly (Twain 361). Much to his chagrin, Scoresby aces his tests with flying colors. Could a simple fool really be able to do such a thing? What if they had a wonderful short term memory? In analyzing this thought, it is clearly seen that young Scoresby must have had some magnificent talent in him that the Reverend was not apt enough to see. Perhaps this was due to a fraternal need to protect the young Scoresby. Perhaps it was due to some amount of jealousy at the young man’s prodigious nature where the Reverend himself failed.
Scoresby rises through the ranks quickly on the battlefield as superior officers get gunned down. The Reverend becomes worried, feeling that their time is at hand when he sees Scoresby make what he (the Reverend) determines to be their final stand (Twain 362). However, it is the very opposite. The Russians take flight at the sudden appearance of Scoresby’s troops and the day is won (Twain 362). Everyone around him proclaims Scoresby a hero, a military enigma of genius. His only doubter is the Reverend who is constantly chalking all of Scoresby’s successes up to the man’s luck while at the same time downing his mental capabilities.
A true fool, no matter how lucky he be, would never accomplish all that Scoresby does in his lifetime. The Reverend however, is constantly following in Scoresby’s shadow, condemning him ridiculously, leading one to believe there is a hidden seed of jealousy beneath the Reverend’s “judgment”. He underestimates his friend throughout the story harshly, saying every goal completed in Scoresby’s life is not of his own doing but because the fate’s smiled that day. There cannot be truth in this; the fates do not smile that often on one person.
The harsh criticism is simply the Reverend underestimating Lord Scoresby out of jealousy and first impressions he had of the younger man so many years ago. The Reverend is the true fool; an intelligent man would not trust a ‘fool’ with his life. Why then does he profess his good friend a foolish man? Jealousy will make one condemn others, but only an idiot would follow a fool into battle.

Thanks and see you tomorrow.

Erin Knisley
English 121.003 1-30-07

Posted by: Erin K at January 30, 2007 10:30 PM

Shayne Schmidt

New Critical Approach “Luck”

In this story called “Luck” by Mark Twain the information is unclear to why Scoresby was a fool or just lucky. It seems like the characters really do not assess his whole life but rather just a couple of events that Scoresby has encountered. To me a man needs to be recognized for his whole life’s work. Anyone can be province as a fool or being just lucky when in the right situation at the right time. Could anyone get lucky at the right time on the right day and also look like a fool on the wrong day?
Also in the story you hear the opinions of two men meanwhile the group is honoring him. I feel if you examine someone for a constant time period you will find flaws that will make anyone look like a fool. I also feel that anyone can get lucky at anytime just by their actions. It seems these two may be jealous or envies of Scoresby and very negative towards him.

Posted by: Shayne Schmidt at January 30, 2007 10:53 PM

Rebecca Shenkle

When reading "Luck" by Mark Twain, I thought about what luck really
is. In the story, the narrator talks about Lieutenant-General Scoresby as
having luck because he was able to gain his position without a lot of work
on his part. The narrator also called him a fool because he was born lucky
and therefore didn't have to work much to get to where he was in life.
I believe luck is an issue that deals with morals and values. Some
people don't believe there is such a thing as pure luck because it
interferes with their beliefs. The definition of luck according to The New
American Webster Handy College Dictionary, is a trend of chance events or
good fortune. Some people can argue that there is no such thing as a
"chance event" or good fortune and that those things are gifts from God,
not just something that happened because you are lucky.
One can analyze the story "Luck" keeping those thoughts in mind.
Perhaps Lieutenant-General Scoresby wasn't just lucky, but that he was
given a gift from God to gain his position in authority. It's all a matter
of opinion, and of morals and values.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at January 30, 2007 10:58 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In “Luck”, by Mark Twain, the narrator is attending a celebratory banquet in honor of the heroic Lt. General Lord Arthur Scoresby Y.C., K.C.B., etc., etc. whose actions during the Crimean War (1853-1856) helped stem the tide of battle and rout a reserve of enemy forces. Mr. Twain mentions that Scoresby is a fictional name given as an alias for the very real subject of the story. The most logical reason for this would be to protect the subject from unneeded embarrassment; for if the truth was told, Scoresby would face an onslaught of negative correspondence, press, and feelings. While Mr. Twain vouches for the story’s truthfulness, he might have used the changing of the subject’s name as a ruse to get more readers to believe the story as non-fiction. Conversely, it may be that Mr. Twain took the actions of one James Brudnell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan and his “Charge of the Light Brigade” and fashioned a nice yarn from it.

While reading a breakdown of “Luck” online I found a reference to a poem titled: “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Alfred Tennyson. In the poem Tennyson describes the efforts of a Light Cavalry Brigade (made up of 5 or so regiments), led by James Brudenell, to attack and capture a massing of Russian artillery at the end of a valley. From what I was able to gather, the orders that were issued to Brudenell stated that he was to attack a Russian position on the left side of the valley but he instead lead his men to the opposite end of the valley into an even larger enemy force. The cavalry men were able to turn the Russians back but suffered tremendous losses.

The events seem to be similar to those the Reverend describes to Mr. Twain about how Scoresby, instead of retreating and supporting the right flank charges and attacks to the left, surprising and routing a Russian reserve force. However, at this time I have not been able to find any evidence in the history of the 7th Earl of Cardigan suggesting that he was a “blunderer” or “absolute fool”. In conclusion, Mr. Twain’s retelling of the Reverend’s tale seems to follow the actions of Earl Cardigan, but without more forthcoming evidence I can’t be sure it’s fiction or non. I can say that it was an entertaining read.

Best Regards,

Justin Bleggi

Posted by: Justin Bleggi at January 30, 2007 11:37 PM

Mark Twain’s story, “Luck,” illustrates many ideas of moral meaning throughout it, and through the moral/intellectual approach of analyzing the story these ideas can be seen. The story begins at a banquet in honor of a man named Lord Arthur Scoresby. The narrator, Mark Twain, explains his gratitude and respect in the opening paragraph, as Scoresby is illustrated in all his valor. Unbeknownst to Twain at the time, this feeling of envy quickly turns into a feeling of pity for the “foolish” Scoresby as he learns the truth about the great war hero. An old and wise clergyman and a former military instructor, whom the narrator had known for quite some time recalls Scoresby’s training experience as well as a first-hand account of what really happened on that fateful day during the Crimean War. From the accounts told by the clergyman, it seems as though Scoresby is indeed not the great warrior that everybody admired so. A major idea of this story, and one that should be highlighted, is the contrast between the reputation and reality of Scoresby’s apparently illegitimate fame and success.
The reputation of Lord Arthur Scoresby is noted in many ways as being large and strong. His admirers, which seemed to be a great deal of people, think of him to be a truthful, honorable battle hero that can only be seen and recognized as a successful leader. First, he was appointed Lieutenant-General of the English army at a ripe early age, a rank that most who fill it fight all their lives to do so. He then led his soldiers into battle against the Russians during the Crimean War, and arose victorious. Because of this great defeat for the English army, instant fame and fortune came to the newly-appointed high-ranking officer. Everybody from England knew his name, as Scoresby’s reputation sky-rocketed.
However, as it turns out, the reality of Lord Arthur Scoresby’s rise to fame had little to do with what his admirers knew and loved about him. In fact, he was known by his former military instructor to be a complete fool, having great deals of trouble completing tasks and even correctly speaking the English language. When the miraculous instance came about that Scorseby was to lead troops, including his instructor from Woolwich Academy, the clergyman was absolutely speechless. Knowing of Scorseby’s sheer lack of knowledge in just about every aspect life, the instructor told of the “great hero’s” climbing the ranks due to the deaths of the ranking officers above him. When in battle, the clergyman recalled clearly noticing the plethora of blunders made by Scorseby. He also recalled of Scorseby’s attempt to retreat, and in trying, brought his remaining marching fleet face to face with the entire Russian army. Thinking they were going toe to toe with the entire English army, the Russians turned around and retreated. From the information recollected by the clergyman, it is clear that Scoresby climbed to the top of the English military through true luck, and it seems as though none of his worshippers knew anything of this. The reputation of Scorseby compared to the reality of Scoresby are both on completely different ends of the spectrum.

Posted by: Colin Hough at January 30, 2007 11:53 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Today for class, we read “Luck”, by Mark Twain. I am using the Moral/Intellectual approach to critique this.

In the story entitled “Luck”, Mark Twain and a clergyman were at a banquet for a man named Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby. The clergyman was an old acquaintance of Mark Twain. They started talking, and the clergyman reveals to Twain that he thinks Scoresby is an absolute fool.

This work conveys a message to the reader because Scoresby was not a smart man whatsoever. It was just by luck that he got to the place he is now. Not everyone survives on luck. So I think Mark Twain wrote this to show the readers that they need to work hard to get what they want out of life, because not many people can just survive merely on luck.

Thank you,

Amber Dunmire

Posted by: Amber Dunmire at January 31, 2007 08:36 AM

Is presenting an unworthy candidate with a chance towards greatness a morally-wrong thing to do? According to “Luck” A story written by Mark Twain it is. In the story the setting is at an awards ceremony honoring Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scorresby, an apparent military stand out in the English Army.
The author meets a man with a different story “Privately- has an absolute fool.”(p242) says the clergyman. The story unfolds on to how this tool of god, had given Scoresby the ability to begin his military career through extra guidance, and how on that fateful day on the Crimean battle front was a lucky mistake.
Although nothing went wrong that day we find the Reverend still after all these years lamenting on the thought of what if the mistake did go wrong; would it have been his fault by sliding Scoresby the unworthy candidate through military school.
Though critics generally bash the moral or intellectual approach of analyzing text, this story was incredibly well written. The subject Scoresby did not sacrifice many lives on that day of battle, but rather winning the day that propelled him through to an incredible military career. Through all of this we see a man still wondering about the negative what-if of the story. What if the regiment went down, and the Russian army succeeded?
The moral point of this story is shadowed by success it makes you think more into it, and still gives you the option of deciding if what the clergyman did was the morally wrong thing to do or not. This story is well written.

Posted by: Erika at January 31, 2007 09:22 AM

I was in groups 1&2. My question was:
Why does the speaker withhold the name of the subject? What would happen if he hadn’t? Does that make this story fiction? Do we have reason to believe the story?

I think the reason he withheld the name of the subject was because he did not want to embarrass the person because if we knew who the person was and he was someone important or just someone well-known we might be quick to judge him. It could be that the person just did not want to be known in the story. It could be just to make the story better so that it adds some mystery to it. I don’t think this makes the story fiction.
I think there are many reasons to believe that this story is true. He withheld the name which could have been to protect the person. Mark Twain talks about events that really did happen in the time period. There is some evidence to prove that it could be real and probably is but people could also argue that Mark Twain just used history as a background to his story.

Posted by: Kristin Dudra at January 31, 2007 09:22 AM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

It is my belief that Mark Twain’s short story, Luck, could easily represent the school system (especially with the way it is set up today). Teachers, like the reverend, do not want their students to fail. And because there is far more emphasis on passing test scores than there is on practical applications of knowledge, a passing test score is translated into the success of the student. Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby is a product of this failed belief. By the fact that he was capable of memorizing the information for his tests, Scoresby proves that he could be capable of at least understanding the information on a basic level. However, the system he was in set him up for “success” after “success” once he was such an “accomplished” student (with such high test scores, and what not) it seemed that he could do no wrong.
Scoresby is an embodiment of illiterate high school graduates everywhere. The system has failed them, and although the teachers meant well, an accurate failing mark would be far more useful that a false passing grade. At least a student with an “F” can admit that they have a problem. A student like Scoresby on the other hand, is tricked into believing that they are all that they can be, and they choose not to work harder in order to better themselves.

Sincerely, Erika Knox

Posted by: Erika Knox at January 31, 2007 09:50 AM

Professor Hobbs,
Moral/Intellectual Response

The story Luck, as I see it, conveys the message that sometimes trying to do the nice thing for someone can have disastrous consequences. In this story the clergyman helped Scoresby in his younger years while he was at the military academy because he was a good man and the clergyman didn’t want to see him fall so hard on his tests. I’m sure a lot of people would’ve done the same thing because it’s hard not to feel bad for a nice person when you know they’re setting themselves up for failure.. So because of his good nature the clergyman helped him study, thinking he would still fail, but miraculously he passed with flying colors. One would think this is all fine and dandy but when these tests are for becoming military officers, a lot can go wrong by having an idiot pass.
Once becoming an officer Scoresby made mistake after mistake. Fortunately all of his mistakes turned out to be good decisions. The message I get from this is that sometimes you should not help people out, because if they can’t do it for themselves they have no business being there. Even though in this story Scoresby turned out to be a very, VERY lucky man, that won’t always be the case. The consequences of trying to help Scoresby do better on his tests could have been much worse, not only did the clergyman’s help put Scoresby in danger, he also endangered the lives of nearly everyone serving under Scoresby. Sometimes you just have to let people do things on their own and just be there to help them when their feelings are hurt.

Jeff Hoover

Posted by: Jeff Hoover at January 31, 2007 10:01 AM

Andy Hood
Moral/Intellectual Approach

The moral or intellectual approach is concerned with finding the hidden message within the content of the story. I am quite familiar with this approach because this is how I have always subconsciously interpreted literature. Now I simply know the proper term for this approach. I enjoy reading stories that have a hidden lesson which can direct my mind in a few different directions.
The story we were instructed to read was entitled “Luck” by Mark Twain. This is a story of a young man who begins in military school by receiving a “little” help from the Reverend. The reverend feels the young man is so unprepared that he would fail miserably. Feeling sorry for the man, the Reverend decides to help him just enough that he would fail so miserably. However, the young man succeeds and ends up receiving great honors. Now the young man will be faced with many challenges in the real world that the Reverend feels he will not be ready for so the Reverend continues to follow the young man. He finds the young man succeeds throughout his life by what seems to be “dumb luck”. A possible lesson taken from this serious of events in the story is that all it takes is just a little extra help or work to succeed. The story inspired me and showed me that just a little more work on my part will produce results. On the other hand, a little extra help from me may help someone else I know succeed.
Now if you were to take a lesson from the Reverend, you might find your mind wandering in different directions. The entire story, the Reverend feels bad for helping this young man who wasn’t prepared because he is afraid he may have endangered others in doing so. He argues with himself the whole story trying to decide whether he was morally wrong or not.
The title of this story may give a lesson similar to the one I have taken from it. I decided to take the story as a kick in the butt to put in a little extra rather than just getting by and maybe it will produce results. The title implies that all it takes is a little extra luck on your side to get where you want to go.

Posted by: Andy Hood at January 31, 2007 10:29 AM

Coming from the time period in which Mark Twain lived his life, it does not surprise me that Twain had written about a famous military general that he had heard rumors about. During the 1800s and early 1900s there was a fair share of wars and violence happening in the world at this time. Military leaders were probably well known in society at this time. Mark Twain had survived the Spanish-American War and the Civil War and these events will be incorporated into Twain’s future works of literature.

Posted by: Steve Petrone at January 31, 2007 10:51 AM

Kyle Lahue

When the Crimean War broke out in the short reading “Luck” the speaker of the story (clergyman) seemed very unhappy and upset. The reason for that is because he saw that Scoresby was making nothing but mistakes on the battlefield. For the most part everyone else around Scoresby thought he was a genius because the things he wasn’t supposed to do always ended up being the right thing. The speaker of the story was so disgusted with all the so called blunders that Scoresby was making. When the colonel went down in the battle the clergyman finally realized that Scoresby was next in command which could further down the road prove to be fatal. It made the speaker so sick that Scoresby had such good luck throughout his lifetime so far

Posted by: Kyle Lahue at January 31, 2007 11:31 AM


For the record, today's SAs were Nicole N. & Kendra S. Thanks folks, you did a great job! You are exempt from the homework assignment.

Here are the details of your homework assignment: Choose one of the options listed below, follow the instructions and post your answer on the English-blog.

NOTE: You DON’T have to type out the question first. Instead, work it into your answer.
ALSO: You DON’T have to e-mail me that you did it (I’ll already know!).

By the way, look at Dudley D.’s responses on the past two assignments. This is how the answers should look. Make them look like a well-thought out letter to me.

Your answer should be original and have at least two or three paragraphs. Those who aren’t really answering the questions (this means evidence of “engaging” with the text) aren’t getting credit for their response. Don’t forget that Turnitin.com alerts me to plagiarism, so don’t even try!

Also, please DON’T waste your time (and mine) just putting up some junk! Simply posting, “sorry I don’t know this stuff” will not get you credit. This course is all about thinking and if you don’t take the time to brainstorm and/or ponder the subject matter, you probably won’t come up with anything.

Today we practiced our abilities to do a Close Reading. Your readings in Appendix B (Roberts 181-185.5) covered three possible theoretical approaches to reading, studying, understanding, writing about or otherwise interpreting literature. These were the:

(1) Moral/Intellectual approach,
(2) The Topical/Historical approach, and
(3) the New Critical/Formalist approach.

Edgar Roberts graciously gives you examples of how to do each one based on Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.”

Instructions: Choose ONE of these approaches and apply it in a similar fashion to Mark Twain's “Luck.” Remember to credit any outside source you use to support your argument (for example, if you use a date for some event, tell me from where . . . if you reference something from the story, put the page number in parentheses). Submit this first to Turnitin.com and second to the English-blog (here).

Option 1: Do a Moral/Intellectual reading/explanation of “Luck” in 2-3 paragraphs

Option 2: Do a Topical/Historical reading/explanation of “Luck” in 2-3 paragraphs

Option 3: Do a New Critical/Formalist reading/explanation of “Luck” in 2-3 paragraphs


Don’t forget your readings for Wednesday:

WAL 185.5 – 189.5 &

WD Part 1, Ch. 1-14

Remember that our in-class Watership Down chapter discussions begin on Wednesday. Tatiana, Deidra, Erin K., Jeff, Justin, Melisa, Shayne, Lorin, Jennifer N., Steph, Amber, Joe, Erin R. and Lyndsay are scheduled to present their chapters. See the .pdf file I already e-mailed you if you’ve forgotten your assigned/chosen chapter.


*NOTE* The deadline for this assignment has now passed. Comments are no longer being accepted for this exercise


Posted by: Lee Hobbs at January 31, 2007 10:38 PM

Chris Collier
ENG 122
Academic Writing II CA 16
January 13, 2009
Dr. Hobbs
Mark Twain’s “Lucky” Point
Mark Twain’s short story “Luck” was a look into the lucky outcomes of a distinguished military man who in reality is a bumbling idiot. The clergyman that knew him before his grandeur always helped the man whenever he seemed to be failing and ended up bounds ahead of his peers contrary to what the clergyman had expected; this caused him to become quite jealous. Mark Twain’s point in this, however, is that those who should not be envious and jealous often end up so and those that are not envious appear as being lucky to those that are.
When people become envious from another’s success, it usually stems from a lack of self-esteem. The clergyman was alone in his older years and had become envious because the military man, who was not very bright, became a war-hero and was adored by many. Mark Twain tells the audience that people will believe and congratulate those that seem to be good people regardless of stature, implying that the clergyman was not as noble as he should have been while the military man in fact was. The clergyman’s feelings of pity while he was an instructor (and not yet clergy) turned against him; not only did he become jealous, he also became ashamed that he gave this military man special attention that he did not give the other students.
Instead of realizing that by helping the military man he was actually doing a good thing because a pupil of his was in need not only in his class but others, the clergyman betrayed the common opinion that teachers are not supposed to become jealous of their student’s success and by doing betrayed his own profession. The clergyman thought that it was “his fault” the Lieutenant-General gained such a rank and in fact the clergyman gave himself an overly large amount of credit for the Lieutenant-General’s early successes. The clergyman as a military instructor may have had an impact early on, but later in life it was all the Lieutenant-General. Mark Twain wanted to show the reader that although people like to see others succeed, they rarely want to give a helping hand in the matter, and often wish the success had not happened.
After years of the Lieutenant-General’s success, the instructor had become a clergyman, bitter and intent on destroying the Lieutenant-General’s good name. Though what the clergyman did not realize, is it was not just the Lieutenant-General’s honorable deeds that made him likeable, but that it was his personality and his stature. The clergyman had let his jealousy and pomposity to overtake him, betraying his god, and in all this he seemed to have portrayed the man’s success as luck. Going so far as to insult the military man, not to his face, but by speaking to others and calling him an “ass” and equating all of his success to just “lucky blunders.” The clergyman’s asinine retelling of the Lieutenant-General’s life as he knew it was only a testament to his jealousy.
Though it may have indeed been luck at times, being lucky is not the only attribute that is needed to succeed in life. Mark Twain’s message may have been that a man must have more than luck in order for many people like him; a man must possess charisma, and must appear to be free from malicious intent. The clergyman indeed had malicious intent, because he was unlucky while the military man was very much so. The clergyman was in the end too obsessed with his own pride to just let go and appreciate what he had done for this man, and instead ended up wasting his life by stalking the military man.

Posted by: Chris Collier at January 19, 2009 10:32 PM

Steve Milvid
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 ca17 short paper #3

Mark, Twain. “Luck.” Writing About Literature by Edgar V. Roberts.
Upper Saddle River: New Jersey. Pearson, 2006. 233-38

The story “Luck” by Mark Twain is a short story that holds three main characters. The narrator, who is telling us of his recount of a banquet in London, being held for someone with a very high military status. The narrator’s friend who sits with him at the banquet and although we never meet him directly, the general. The character that the story focuses on the most, however, is the narrator’s friend. He is a clergyman but formerly a military instructor, and an instructor of the generals. He seems to be a very upfront type of person as he outright tells his friend that the general is an idiot. He tells us of when he taught the young man who would become the general. It starts on the day of the new recruits preliminary examination. Here we learn that the clergyman is a very sympathetic character. As he describes the uplifting answers to all of the questions the new recruits were asked one person, the general stick out to him. The clergyman says “He didn’t know anything, so to speak, as he described his stupidity. Right at the beginning the clergyman makes it his mission to prepare this young kid for the test, with the best possible outcome to be to not make his inevitable fall so hard, or so he thought. The instructor studies with him for weeks all the time knowing that the future general did not have a chance. On the day of examination, to the instructor’s surprise the young general did excellent, taking first place. Right away the instructor is overcome with misery, knowing that he has lined this man up for promotions and positions he did not earn, nor was he capable of succeeding in. He had dammed the men who would serve under him and it rested heavily on his conscience as he describes it “Sleep? There was no more sleep for me for a week.”

Posted by: steve milvid at February 3, 2009 06:47 PM

Allyn Tuff
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 CA 16
A “Lucky” Setting
Setting according to Edger V. Roberts is “places, objects, and backgrounds” (Roberts 109). Well In the story “Luck” Mark Twain states the setting in the beginning. “It was a banquet in London in honor of two or three conspicuously illustrious English military names” (Twain 242). The setting of this story shows to be important later in the story because it shows irony of a man who is being recognized for being witty on the battle fields, when he really is a fool.
According to infra, Twain writes about a mentor who taught this man whose name is Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby. All this man did was teach Scoresby how to pass the test to get into the military because he saw that Scoresby was not very intelligent. Once Scoresby took the test (of which he had simply memorized without any knowledge of it), not only did he pass, but he passed with the greatest score out of anyone else. Because of this, he started off in the military with a good rank. Each time he was leading the battle field, he would do something extremely stupid, and ironically, it turned out good in his luck. Every time this happened he would rank even higher for mistakes. Finally he was put into a situation where he was making a decision about where to go when retreating, and the mistake that he made was not knowing which way was left and right. He meant to go left, but actually went right where there was an extreme amount danger. According to the story the men would have all been shot and killed in “ninety nine cases out of a hundred” (Twain 244), but this time Scoresby turned out lucky.
The irony is shown through the setting because everyone who was at this huge banquet in London, is honoring a man who’s “mildest blunders were enough to make a man in the right mind cry” (Twain 244), when really he was a fool who wouldn’t even have been able to pass the test to get into the military without help. The only way to describe the way that Scoresby was able to pull off all of those decisions on the battle field, and ironically turn out to be good, is through “Luck”.

Works Cited
Roberts, Edger V. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentive Hall, 2005.
Twain, Mark. "Luck." Roberts, Edger V. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 242-245.

Posted by: Allyn Tuff at February 23, 2009 03:31 PM

Baumgardner 1
Ryan Baumgardner
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II
26 February, 2009
Sometimes all a Man needs is Luck
The word luck is often talked about in every day life. People will say, good luck or the casinos will state, come test out your luck. In Mark Twain’s Luck the main character, General Scoresby is being recognized at a ceremony for his heroic and tactic deeds throughout his career. Scoresby actions have all been mistakes, but somehow luck has straightened them out. The theme to Luck is that some people are just luckier than others. I feel this is an appropriate theme because it’s just like Edgar Roberts said, “When one of the ideas seems to turn up over and over again throughout a work, it is called theme” (Roberts 119).
A man at the ceremony finds out that Scoresby’s whole life has been based on luck, and in fact that the man is actually an idiot. “I say again, as I said at the banquet, Scoresby’s an absolute fool” (Twain 245). The character who narrates the story is the one who taught Scoresby, and he each time he has the idea that he will fail he succeeds to the fate of luck. The character narrating the story is talking in first person so it is easy to recognize most of his ideas. When Scoresby first came into military academy he lacked intelligence and couldn’t comprehend even the simplest of things. Yet every time there is a test he passed with flying colors just because of luck. These ideas keep coming, the thought of failure for a blunder, but revived with luck.
Baumgardner 2
In this story the theme of luck is very heavily emphasized even the authors voice put focus on it. The author does this by stating an action making it look like he is going to definitely fail, then act very surprised when he succeeds. That is why the theme “Some people are luckier that others” fits very well with the story. Imagine having luck on your side everyday of your life. Even to the point of making you a much decorated person because of what luck has done for you. Just ask General Scoresby.

Baumgardner 3
Work Cited
Twain, Mark. “Luck.” Writing About Literature. Ed. Roberts V. Edgar. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 242-245.
Roberts, Edgar. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Ryan Baumgardner at March 2, 2009 10:34 PM

Jessica McLean
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 CA17: Academic Writing II
March 1, 2009
Theme in Mark Twain’s Luck: Scoresby’s Life was Based on Luck
In Mark Twain’s short story Luck, the theme is just as the title states. Edgar Roberts defines theme as, “When one of the ideas seems to turn up over and over again throughout a work” (119). Using his definition, I have come to the conclusion that the ongoing theme of this story is luck. I determined this by “Studying the statements made by characters”, as Roberts instructs (122). In this story, a clergyman informs us that Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby wouldn’t be a celebrated war hero if luck hadn’t been on his side his whole life.
From the time he was a young boy, Lieutenant Scoresby wasn’t academically inclined. The clergyman was his teacher and states that, “he’s an absolute fool” (Twain 242). He did not know the answers to many questions and when he tried to answer, he sounded idiotic. To help him pass a few big tests, the reverend had study sessions with Scoresby, in which he crammed the knowledge of one topic into him. In doing this he hoped the boy would at least get by with a passing grade. As luck would have it, the tests only consisted of the questions the reverend drilled into his head and he passed with flying colors. If luck hadn’t been on Scoresby’s side, he would have failed school and wouldn’t have gotten the captaincy in a marching regiment.
Another reason Scoresby wouldn’t have done well in life without luck is that, “he never did anything but blunder” (244), and yet somehow, his mistakes always turned into success stories. The most memorable situation was one in which he was given orders to do one thing, but in turn, did exactly the opposite. The clergyman says his only reason for this was that Scoresby couldn’t tell his left from his right. The outcome of this mistake, luckily, was that Scoresby surprise attacked the Russian Army and got recognized and decorated for it right there on the field. In all reality, the Russians should have destroyed Scoresby’s troops. Instead, however, luck intervened and they thought Scoresby had a whole army with him and surrendered.
If Scoresby hadn’t had luck on his side his entire life, he wouldn’t have finished school or become a decorated military officer. He also would have been killed during battle a number of times. Luck is the theme because throughout the entire story, the clergyman keeps reminding us that if Scoresby had been any other average, unlucky man, he would have been a complete failure. All of the results for his mistakes are, “proof that the very best thing in all this world that can befall a man is to be born lucky” (244-245).

Works Cited
Twain, Mark. “Luck”. Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle
River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 242-245.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice
Hall, 2006.

Posted by: Jessica McLean at March 3, 2009 08:32 AM

Dawn Serzanin
Dr. Hobss
ENG 122 CA17
5 March 2009
Lucky Fool or Hard Worker
Mark Twain’s short story “Luck” is about a well honored military leader, Scoresby, whose real story of failure is told. Edgar Roberts states, “What makes a symbol symbolic is its capacity to signify additional levels of meaning,” (129) which can be compared to Scoresby’s so called luck. Even though the clergyman telling the story felt that it was plain luck that helped Scoresby succeed, the reader might find this luck to symbolize recognition for hard work.
Often time’s hard work can go unnoticed especially if it is not the best. Although many people such as Scoresby may struggle with learning it does not mean they are not trying their hardest. In many places in this story Scoresby is called “an absolute fool” by the clergyman, which shows how although everyone else saw him as a hero the clergyman was not impressed because of how poorly Scoresby had done in school. The clergyman, a teacher of Scoresby seems to have given up on him too early as a young man. It is simple to see that Scoresby was not just lucky but also a hard worker because every time he was to be tested he would cram with the clergyman to know all he would need to know to pass his tests. Each time he studied and was expected to fail he succeeded, only showing that he could in fact rise to the occasion even if it took him a little more time. The clergyman says “They are proof that the very best thing in all this world that can befall a man is to be born lucky.” (Twain 244) There could be a little luck involved with Scoresby’s accomplishments, but I think his accomplishments are more about working hard to get to your goal and never letting anyone talk down to you. Scoresby symbolizes someone who believes in himself when no one else may.
As Roberts writes about symbolism he focuses on the importance of being able to understand symbolism on many different levels. Twain uses this concept in his short story “Luck” to help the readers see how easy it is to overcome challenges if you are willing to work at them.

Works Cited
1. Twain, Mark. “Luck.” Writing About Literature: 11th ed. Written by Edgar Roberts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006. (242-245).
2. Roberts, Edgar.”Writing About Literature: 11th ed.” Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006.(129-143).

Posted by: Dawn at March 10, 2009 09:14 AM

Josh Green

Dr. Hobbs

Eng 122 CA17


Luck by Mark Twain

Crimean Warfare

Mark Twain’s “Luck” is a tale of a decorated British officer named Scorsbey’s rise to power during the Crimean war. Many regarded him as a military genius but those who knew him best called him an “absolute fool” (Twain 245). “Why he never did anything but blunder” (Twain 244) but everyone else say them as triumphs because he had some kind of luck.

Luck was originally published in 1891 with the Harpers Magazine Company. The story centers around the Crimean war in 1853 fought between the Russian Empire on one side and an alliance of France, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. Most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula, with additional actions occurring in western Turkey and the Baltic Sea region. Around this time Twain was working around St. Louis, New York and Philadelphia in small paper companies with his family. So twain was never a part of the war but he still featured it in the short story “Luck”.

The Crimean War is sometimes considered to be the first "modern" conflict and "introduced technical changes which affected the future course of warfare". Another major factor was the dispute between Russia and France over the privileges of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches in the holy places in Palestine. Twains story of general Scorsbey centers around his unorthodox actions in the war which made him a legend among his allies but there is little to no support of Scorsbey’s character by the banquet attendants in the work. There is no evidence of a General Scorsbey in the actual Crimean war but the character provided an interesting tale in Twain’s short story.

Works Cited

Twain, Mark. “Luck.” Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Pearson, 2006. 242- 245.

Roberts, Edgar V. “Writing about Literature” Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Pearson, 2006.

Twain, Mark. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 12 Mar. 2009 .

Rempel, Gerhard . "The Crimean War." 12 Mar 2009 .

Posted by: Josh Green at March 23, 2009 03:11 PM

Katie Ganning
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 CA17: Academic Writing II
23 March 2009
Historical Context in Mark Twain’s Luck; Time have changed
In Mark Twain’s Luck, the narrator has also become a reader of the story himself. The Crimean War has ended and many have gathered around for a dinner party in honor of the Lieutenant. As the narrator is in complete awe over the honored guest, a clergyman felt different. He believed that the lieutenant is a fool because of his previous encounters with him as they grew up. The Crimean War began March 1854, the French and English were fighting against the Russian in protection to Turkey. Before then, the clergyman attended school with the lieutenant and believed that the people’s praise was for a false personality of him. The lieutenant was not a bright student growing up, but with the help of the Reverend teaching him more about Caesar, he was able to trick everyone into believing he was brilliant. At first, the Reverend was pleased to see everyone accepting him as an intellect, but once the war broke out and they would be fighting along the battle ground, he realized that the lieutenant cannot go on pretending to be as smart as people portrayed him. The Reverend shows a great deal of envy towards this man which made the narrator question and explain. This short story shows a comparison of how the culture of people today and the people in history handle mannerism and wars.
According to Roberts, “the subject matter brings out ideals and attitudes of the writer, and these can then be related to the time in which the work was written, just as it may also be related to our own times.” (Roberts 146). Twain’s attitude towards his story is written similar to our own today, however the mannerism that the reverend had toward the lieutenant is different then the way most would handle in today’s society. War’s have become more complex and advance then they were during history, one would have to go through enough training and test to prove they were able to handle a battle ground, if the reverend was living in our time he would have spoken up right away to correct the military for the lieutenants ranking.
People in today’s society are much more outspoken than people in history. Although Luck has a historical background about the Crimean war, this story is fiction because it would be impossible for a man as the reverend says of the lieutenant’s intelligence to handle a whole army and take on a battle ground. “I sat again, as I said at the banquet, Scorseby’s an absolute fool.” (Twain 245), luck was on lieutenant’s side that day, nothing more than luck.

Works Cited
Cavendish, Richard. The Crimean War Begins: March 27/28th , 1854. History Today. 54. 3 (2004) p. 55. 23 March 2009
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle Brook: Prentice Hall, 2006. 144-154.
Twain, Mark. Luck. Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle Brook: Prentice Hall, 2006. 242-245.

Posted by: Katie Ganning at March 25, 2009 09:09 AM

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Ryan Baumgardner
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 Academic Writing II
26 February, 2009
Sometimes all a Man needs is Luck
The word luck is often talked about in every day life. People will say, good luck or the casinos will state, come test out your luck. In Mark Twain’s Luck the main character, General Scoresby is being recognized at a ceremony for his heroic and tactic deeds throughout his career. Scoresby actions have all been mistakes, but somehow luck has straightened them out. The theme to Luck is that some people are just luckier than others. I feel this is an appropriate theme because it’s just like Edgar Roberts said, “When one of the ideas seems to turn up over and over again throughout a work, it is called theme” (Roberts 119).
A man at the ceremony finds out that Scoresby’s whole life has been based on luck, and in fact that the man is actually an idiot. “I say again, as I said at the banquet, Scoresby’s an absolute fool” (Twain 245). The character who narrates the story is the one who taught Scoresby, and he each time he has the idea that he will fail he succeeds to the fate of luck. The character narrating the story is talking in first person so it is easy to recognize most of his ideas. When Scoresby first came into military academy he lacked intelligence and couldn’t comprehend even the simplest of things. Yet every time there is a test he passed with flying colors just because of luck. These ideas keep coming, the thought of failure for a blunder, but revived with luck.
Baumgardner 2
In this story the theme of luck is very heavily emphasized even the authors voice put focus on it. The author does this by stating an action making it look like he is going to definitely fail, then act very surprised when he succeeds. That is why the theme “Some people are luckier that others” fits very well with the story. Imagine having luck on your side everyday of your life. Even to the point of making you a much decorated person because of what luck has done for you. Just ask General Scoresby.

Baumgardner 3
Work Cited
Twain, Mark. “Luck.” Writing About Literature. Ed. Roberts V. Edgar. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 242-245.
Roberts, Edgar. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

Posted by: ryan baumgardner at April 16, 2009 09:49 PM

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