In The Convent of Pleasure two of the central characters, Lady Happy and the princess, show illustrate a tale of deception and the strange nature of romantic desire. At first when the princess first arrives in the play we think little of it, she appears to be just another woman of royalty who seeks to live away from the societal infrastructure of of men. Perhaps an oddity of her behavior is that she pledged a deep fealty to Lady Happy in a way that demeaned the once princess to a servant role, but this was an easily permissible action given the inherent oddities of the convent. In the section of the play where the members of the convent are putting on a their own plays is when we first may begin to think there is something amiss with the princess. In each scene she is cast into the masculine role. There are other hints along the way, but ultimately it is revealed that this princess was in fact a prince who had snuck into the convent. Yet after this is revealed we hear little from Lady Happy and the convent comes to a quiet end.
The Kinks’ 1970 hit song “Lola” tells a similar tale of destruction, but with slightly different gender assignments that change the entirety of the reaction upon revelation. The story begins in a club down in Soho where the singer meets a mysterious woman, Lola, who asks him for a dance. Like The Convent of Pleasure the is no reason to believe anything is strange about this situation. Yet as the story continues some oddities about Lola. The singer is squeezed so tight in an embrace that “nearly broke my spine” and at one point Lola “picked me up and sat me on her knee”. These actions are not necessarily the most becoming of a feminine character, but yet the singer still says “when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my Lola.” Then shit hits the fan and we get the signature line of the song, “Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man, But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man, And so is Lola.” And that is how the song ends, tapering off with repeated refrains of the name Lola.
The endings to both the song and the play are similar because we are given no clear resolution as to the relationship and feelings of the couples in question. Both protagonists (Lady Happy and singer) were happy with their relationship before the revelation that their love interest was of the other sex and in some regard I think we are meant to believe that their relationships continue afterwards showing that their feelings succeeded beyond the bias of gender.