Luck by Mark Twain Summary


This story describes the thin line between foolishness and sheer genius, stupidity and inspirational acts. The story is about one Arthur Scoresby who is a man capable of tremendous acts of idiocy (stupid behaviour) but they all seem to be translated into moments of fortunate glories.

The narration is done through the perspective of a priest who has seen and watched Arthur’s story unfold and unravel at arm’s length.

The Priest & Arthur

The priest was in the armed forces as a teacher and one of his students was Arthur. As a novice (learner), Arthur was always up to no good. He lacked any significant trove of knowledge and was capable for moments of absolute mindlessness.

As his teacher, the priest helped him get over the line in many a test and exams. With sheer luck and inexplicable miracles, Arthur not just passed but was honored as the one of the most shining performers.

Arthur – The Captain

Some years down the line, Arthur rose to the rank of Captain in the army. It was the age of the war in Europe, as the World was looking for blood. Arthur was pushed into the limelight when his superior officer died.

The poor man was still as clueless as always and could do nothing right (according to the priest). However, his mistakes were converted into singular moments of victory by the miracle of luck.


On one such occasion, Arthur miscalculated enormously. Going diametrically opposite to where he was supposed to, he stumbled into an enemy formation waiting to ambush the unsuspecting allied forces. However, instead of being routed by the enemy, Arthur brought an unexpected victory to the allied ranks.

The surprised enemy soldiers panicked and scampered to save their face. The nation heralded Arthur as a genius for his act of unparalleled courage and strength. His became a global treasure and hero when any other man, with his mistakes and goof ups, would have been castigated and ridiculed.

His story defied any rationale and disobeyed any logic. However, it verified one of Napoleon’s famous quotes, “A lucky general trumps a great general in every war”.


This story also points to the theme of jealousy and envy. Even though the priest is known as a man of truth, the reader is compelled to think that he is slightly jealous of Arthur’s rise to fame and success.

Both men had known each other for several decades but they have had completely different destinations. While Arthur is revered as a hero and icon, the priest is considered just a simple man among millions of simple and honest men.

One cannot but help concede that much of the frustration that the priest feels is based on his underestimation of Arthur’s abilities and potential.