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Subject: Literature In English
Topic: Summary Analysis of the Novel”She Stoops to Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith
Lesson Objectives: This lesson is aimed at helping learners understand the novel “She stoops to Conquer”. So By the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:
1. In few sentences describe the author;
2. Identify and write about setting of the novel;
3. Narrate the plot of the novel;
4. Identify and discuss the themes in the novel;
5. Narrate the plot of the novel.
Learning Aids: See Reference materials below lesson content.
Note: This is just summary of the novel for instruction purpose and does not cover all contents. As students preparing for exams, we always advise not to depend on this alone but get a copy of the book from bookshops for detailed study.
Who Is Oliver Goldsmith?
Oliver Goldsmith is a great Irish poet , novelist , playwright , and man of letters. He was born in 1728 in Ballymahon, County Longford,Kingdom of Ireland, or Elphin, County Roscommon, Kingdom of Ireland. He belonged to the circle of Johnson , Burke and Reynolds –“The Club”. The Traveller (1764) and The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) earned him literary distinction and reputation. She Stoops to conquer (1773) is his dramatic prominent piece of work whose complicated plot is based upon practical jokes , miscommunication and mistaken identities.
Literary techniques or devices can be defined as any
element or entirety of elements that a writer uses in the structure of his/her work to add meaning and depth to the subject. Literary
devices add texture,energy,new meanings and excitement to the
story line. It helps to hold the attention of readers in order to look for the deeper meaning presented in a simple manner by the writer.
Summary of the Plot
Act I, Scene i
Mr. Hardcastle has selected for his daughter’s husband someone neither have met, the son of his old friend, Sir Charles Marlow. Kate fears she will not like him because her father described him as handsome but reserved.
Act I, Scene ii
At the Three Pigeons Tavern, Hardcastle’s stepson, Tony Lumpkin, sings with his drinking buddies. The landlord interrupts, saying that two London gentlemen have lost their way. As a joke, Tony tells the men, Marlow and Hastings, that they remain far from their destination, Hardcastle’s house. Then, Tony directs them to his stepfather’s house, describing it as an inn, run by an eccentric innkeeper who fancies himself a gentleman.
When Mrs. Hardcastle joins Hasting’s talk with Constance, her conversation reveals her pretensions and ignorance of fashionable London life. He pokes fun at Mrs. Hardcastle’s incomplete knowledge of London’s fashionable society, of which she so yearns to be a part.
Hastings and Tony converse. Hastings loves Constance and wants to marry her, while Tony detests the thought of marrying Constance but is being urged to by his mother (so that she can maintain control of Constance’s jewelry). They develop a plan to help them both. Hastings asks Tony’s assistance in eloping with Constance, and Tony agrees, adding that he will also help her remove her inheritance of jewels.
Hardcastle, perplexed, wonders why his friend, Sir Marlow, recommended that Kate marry young Marlow, who seems rude and unmannered. When joined by Kate, they discuss Marlow’s behavior and seem to be talking about two different people. In a sense, of course, they are. When with Hardcastle, whom he believes to be an eccentric innkeeper, Marlow behaves wildly and without manners. Knowing Kate to be a fine lady, however, Marlow remains shy and reserved. Father and daughter agree to reject a match with Marlow as unsuitable, but for different reasons—Hardcastle because of Marlow’s apparent wildness, Kate because of his reserve.
Tony has Constance’s jewels sent to Hastings but with no explanation about where they came from or what is to be done with them. Constance, unaware, asks Mrs. Hardcastle’s permission to wear them. Constance believes that with the jewels in her possession, she can abscond with them when eloping. The jewels rightly belong to Constance, and Mrs. Hardcastle has difficulty finding a reason to refuse to give them to her. Tony suggests she say the jewels have been lost. Mrs. Hardcastle does so, but when she discovers the jewels have been lost, she tells Tony. He laughs, pretending to think her still playing a scene, though he knows the jewels are lost, because he took them.
When Kate discovers that Tony tricked the visitors into believing her father’s house to be an inn, she urges all to maintain the deception. Consequently, Marlow mistakes Kate for a barmaid and flirts with her, behavior to which she responds. Hardcastle enters just in time to see Marlow seizing Kate’s hand. Marlow rushes off, with Hardcastle even more convinced of Marlow’s impropriety, while Kate insists she can prove the respectability of Marlow, to whom she has taken a fancy.
Constance tells Hastings that they expect a visit from Marlow’s father, Sir Marlow. Marlow wonders why Hastings has sent him a casket of jewels. Worried about their safety, Marlow returns them to the woman he believes to be the landlady but who is actually one of the Hardcastles’ servants. The servant returns Constance’s jewels to Mrs. Hardcastle, from whom they had been taken by Tony in the first place. When Hastings enters, Marlow reveals his infatuation with the barmaid (actually Kate). Hastings asks about the jewels, only to be told that Marlow has given them to the landlady (Mrs. Hardcastle). Hastings, who must continue the inn masquerade, cannot reveal the Hardcastles’ identity. Consequently, Hastings decides he and Constance must elope without the jewels.
When Hardcastle tells Marlow that his servants have gotten drunk, he is astounded to learn they did so on Marlow’s instructions! As Hardcastle storms out, outraged, Marlow realizes his mistake, confusing Hardcastle’s house with an inn. Kate enters, confirming Marlow’s suspicion. She conceals her identity, however, continuing to present herself as a barmaid. He tells her he would marry her, in spite of her lower class origins, if society—and his father—permitted, but he suspects that cannot be. She now understands his generous nature and sincerity.
With the jewels back in her possession, Mrs. Hardcastle urges Tony to marry Constance the following day, but unbeknownst to her, Tony already has arranged to provide horses enabling Constance and Hastings to elope. When Mrs. Hardcastle discovers their plan, she storms off, furious, ordering Constance to accompany her to her Aunt Pedigree’s house, where she will be kept safe from Hastings and their unapproved marriage.
The act ends with Marlow angry with Hastings for concealing the true nature of the mansion, and Hasting incensed with Marlow for inadvertently returning Constance’s jewels to Mrs. Hardcastle. Constance goes off to the supervision of Aunt Pedigree and all seems lost, until Tony insists he has a plan.
Act V, Scene i
Sir Marlow and Hardcastle enter, aware of Tony’s joke and laughing about Marlow’s mistaking Hardcastle’s mansion for an inn.
When told of his son’s love for Kate, Sir Marlow remains skeptical that his son could overcome his reserve with a proper lady. Kate, of course, fails to mention that when Marlow declared his love, her barmaid’s disguise concealed her identity.
Act V, Scene ii
Instead of taking Mrs. Hardcastle and Constance to Aunt Pedigree’s house, Tony leads them in a circle, until they find themselves tired, hungry, and—without realizing it—right back where they started. Mrs. Hardcastle becomes furious with Tony when she discovers his prank. Hastings, reunited with Constance, demands she leave the jewels behind and elope with him, but she refuses, urging “prudence.” She hopes that, in time, she can marry with both Hardcastle’s approval and her inheritance.
Act V, Scene iii
Kate, to convince Hardcastle and Sir Marlow that Marlow loves her, hides them where they can secretly observe the lovers’ interview. Kate then confronts Marlow, who has come to say goodbye. Knowing that Marlow would become shy if he knew her true identity as a proper lady and Hardcastle’s daughter, Kate continues her pretence of being a barmaid. Marlow passionately confesses his love, offering his heart despite the differences in their social classes. Finally, Hardcastle and Sir Marlow interrupt, revealing Kate’s true identity.
Mrs. Hardcastle thinks that Constance and Hastings have eloped without the jewels, but they have not. They enter and beg Hardcastle’s permission to marry. Hardcastle tells Tony that he has been of age—and therefore eligible to refuse Constance’s hand in marriage—for three months. Mrs. Hardcastle has kept this secret from him in hopes of convincing them to marry so she could keep control of Constance’s jewels. Tony refuses Constance, whom he does not love, enabling her to marry Hastings, whom she does love. The play ends with Mrs. Hardcastle’s greedy plot foiled and both couples—Marlow and Kate and Hastings and Constance—ready to wed.
Appearances and Reality
Much of the comedy of Goldsmith’s play depends on confusion between appearance and reality. After all, Marlow’s misperception of Mr. Hardcastle’s house as an inn drives the narrative action in the first place. Ironically, Goldsmith’s comedy allows appearance to lead to the discovery of reality. Kate’s deception leads her to discover Marlow’s true nature. Falling in love when he thinks her a barmaid, he declares his decision to defy society and marry her in spite of the differences in their social class. Her falsehood allows him to relax with her and reveal his true self.
Truth and Falsehood
Thematically related to the theme of Appearance and Reality, Goldsmith uses falsehood to reveal the truth. Most obviously Tony’s lie about Mr. Hardcastle’s mansion being an inn produces the truth of the lovers’ affections. Lying also leads to poetic justice. When Constance asks to wear her jewels, Mrs. Hardcastle lies and tells her they have been lost. Tony takes the jewels to give to Hastings, and when Mrs. Hardcastle goes to find them, they have been lost. Her lie has become true.
In many ways, Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquersatirizes the ways the eighteenth-century society believed that proper men and women ought to behave. While the play shows the traditional pattern of male-female relations in Hastings’s wooing of Constance, it also reverses the era’s sexual etiquette by having Kate pursue Marlow.
Goldsmith’s comedy raises serious issues, however. On the eighteenth century’s “marriage market,” many people married for money, land, or title. This practice often turned women into commodities, to be exchanged between fathers and prospective husbands more for economic than emotional reasons. In She Stoops to Conquer, the relationship between Mrs. Hardcastle and Constance depends entirely on her inheritance of colonial jewels, which provide Mrs. Hardcastle’s sole reason for pressing Tony and Constance to wed. In this sense, Constance’s jewels can be seen to symbolize the marketing of the female on the marriage market.
Though explored comically, the play also illustrates the tenuous status of contemporary working women and their constant danger of sexual harassment and the predatory nature of men. Goldsmith’s comedy depends on our laughing because Marlow respects middle-and upper-class women but treats working class women as sexual objects. Historically, however, the situation for working women proved quite serious. During the eighteenth century, with more and more women entering domjestic service, problems arose in which young female servants were vulnerable to unwelcome sexual advances from their employers and their families. Rape and sexual violence became common problems and figure prominently in eighteenth-century plays and novels. Novels by Austen, Burney, and Richardson treat the assault and seduction of young servants by their masters, in part to serve as a warning to those entering domestic services.
As the play opens, Mr. Hardcastle associates his traditional attitudes with his life in the country. The comedy develops with the arrival of visitors from the city, Marlow and Hastings. Their lives of fashion represent innovation and change, though not necessarily for the better, as Mr. Hardcastle exclaims: “Is the whole age in a combination to drive sense and discretion out of doors?” The conflict between city and country values becomes clearer in light of countrified Tony’s practical joke on supposedly sophisticated city residents like Marlow and Hastings. Mrs. Hardcastle also associates the urban with the fashionable and pretends to more urbanity than she actually possesses.
The theme of obedience focuses primarily on the hierarchical relationship between parents and children, though Goldsmith’s play suggests that obedience consists of more than blind servility. Children should obey their parents. Parents, however, should earn their respect and deserve to be obeyed by acting in their children’s best interest. Kate obeys Mr. Hardcastle, but while they may not agree entirely on fashion and boyfriends, he acts as he does for what he believes to be her own good. Tony does not obey Mrs. Hardcastle and stymies her scheme to set him up with Constance. Greed, rather than paternal duty, motivates her actions, however, for she concerns herself primarily with maintaining possession of Constance’s jewels, not with selecting a suitable mate for Tony. She does not deserve obedience, and no one condemns Tony for resisting her.
Age of Sensibility
Many works written between 1750 and 1798 emphasized emotion and pathos, instead of drama and humor. The Sentimental comedy, called a comedy not because of its humor but because it had a happy ending, ruled the stage. She Stoops to Conquer reacts against this tradition, for Goldsmith’s comedy actually evokes laughter. The prologue by Garrick and the epilogue by Goldsmith clearly situate the play as a challenge to sensibility, and positive audience response initiated a new age in stage comedy.
Comedy of Manners
While She Stoops to Conquer contains elements of farce, its comedy also stems from poking fun at the manners and conventions of aristocratic, sophisticated society.
In the concluding statement of She Stoops to Conquer,Goldsmith summarizes the plot and hopes that the comedy has conquered his audience as Kate has conquered Marlow’s heart.
Many critics have described She Stoops to Conquer, a comedy characterized by broad humor and outlandish incidents, as a farce.
Goldsmith uses foreshadowing to create expectations and explain subsequent developments. For example, Mrs. Hardcastle in act one describes their house as “an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn.” This helps the audience understand what gave Tony the idea for his practical joke and explains how the travelers’ could mistake the Hardcastle’s house for an inn.
Later, when Marlow indicates his anxiety speaking with ladies, but comfort flirting with wenches, this foreshadows his comical interludes with Kate. Kate’s discussion with Mr. Hardcastle about desiring an outgoing husband leads the audience to anticipate her disappointment with the formal Marlow. Her statement that Marlow’s shyness during their first meeting prevented him from even looking at her face makes us expect some comical treatment of identity and gives Kate’s disguise as a barmaid credibility.
When Mrs. Hardcastle and Hastings discuss London’s high society, she intends the conversation to show her sophistication and knowledge of city life. Instead, the conversation has exactly the opposite effect. Her confusion between fashionable and unfashionable neighborhoods shows her ignorance of high society, making her comments ironic.
Throughout the play, Mrs. Hardcastle tries maintain control over Constance’s jewels. It is poetic justice that when Mrs. Hardcastle has hidden the jewels from Constance, claiming they’ve been stolen, they have in fact been stolen by Tony.
A talkative, likeable servant with poor table manners and a broad sense of humor. Mr. Hardcastle
attempts to teach Diggory and other field servants to serve at a formal table, with comic results.
Diggory also delivers the letter which tells Tony that Hastings needs fresh horses in order to elope with Constance. Constance must read the letter aloud in front of her aunt. Realizing its contents, Constance pretends to read, instead fabricating a story about gambling. Tony’s interest in gaming causes him to hand the letter to his mother, which spoils the secret elopement.
Miss Kate Hardcastle
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, Kate seeks in marriage a compatible and companionable husband, not money or status. In an effort to ascertain Marlow’s true feelings, she pretends to be a barmaid to get him to announce that he loves her despite her low social position. In her intelligence and versatility, she resembles such Shakespearean heroines as Viola in Twefth Night and Rosalind in As You Like It.
Mr. Hardcastle loves the rustic life away from fashionable London, which he believes breeds “vanity
A vain and greedy widower, Mrs. Hardcastle remarried after the death of her first husband. Not evil as much as selfish and misguided, she lacks self-knowledge. While her husband enjoys rural pleasures, she yearns for a fashionable London social life and complains that they never entertain.
Her love for Tony Lumpkin, her son by her first husband, spoils him and makes it impossible for her to see his shortcomings clearly. While Mr. Hardcastle wants his daughter Kate to marry for compatibility and affection, however, Mrs. Hardcastle pushes Tony to marry Constance Neville because of her inheritance and social standing. Mrs. Hardcastle’s greed and lack of perception prevent her from seeing that Tony does not love Constance.
Marlow’s friend, he loves Constance Neville, who returns his affection. He wants to marry her and has the permission of her now dead father, though Mrs. Hardcastle, who covets Constance’s jewels, opposes the match. Impetuous when it comes to marriage, Hastings urges Constance to abandon her inheritance and insists (impractically) that they can live on love.
While not evil, Hastings does not behave with complete honesty. On discovering the inn to be Hardcastle’s house, he conceals this information from Marlow, fearing his friend will want to leave immediately and disrupt Hastings’s marriage plans.
Like Tony, Hastings too can be a joker. For example, Mrs. Hardcastle tells Hastings, “There’s nothing in the world I love to talk of so much as London, and the fashions, though I was never there myself.” Hastings makes amusement of her ignorance of the city and the pride that makes her pretend to more knowledge than she actually has. The scene’s humor comes as their dialogue reveals to the audience her confusion between the fashionable and poor parts of London.
The proprietor of the Three Pigeons alehouse, who informs Tony that Marlow and Hastings have arrived, searching for Tony’s stepfather’s house. The Landlord enables Tony to trick the travelers into thinking Mr. Hardcastle’s house is an inn.
See Tony Lumpkin
Mrs. Hardcastle’s son by her first marriage. Tony is a prankster and enjoys such practical jokes as burning the footman’s shoes and disturbing his stepfather’s wig. Tony sets the play’s action in motion by lying to Marlow and Hastings, telling them that Mr. Hardcastle’s house is an inn.
Ignorant and spoiled, though not unlikable, Tony is more concerned with having fun than advancing his education or social standing; Mr. Hardcastle says that the only schools Tony will ever attend are “the alehouse and the stable.” As he drinks with his buddies at the Three Pigeons alehouse, Tony sings a song that calls drink a better teacher than schoolmasters or preachers. Tony assures his friends that when he comes of age and inherits, he will spend his money with them drinking and gambling on horses. It is clear, however, that while Tony may come of age, he will never grow up.
Mrs. Hardcastle wants Tony to marry Constance Neville so that the family might benefit from the girl’s inheritance; Tony cannot refuse until he legally comes of age. Despite his foolishness and immaturity, Tony does exhibit some character with his refusal to marry for money. Instead, he helps the lovers get the jewels and elope, though he serves his own interests as well as theirs in each case.
In Act III, the maid informs Kate about Tony’s joke of telling Marlow the Hardcastle’s house is an inn, and that Marlow believes Kate to be a barmaid.
Marlow is Hastings friend and the son of Sir Charles Marlow, Mr. Hardcastle’s old friend. Sir Charles has recommended his son as a suitable husband for Mr. Hardcastle’s daughter, Kate. One peculiarity marks Marlow’s behavior: while he can aggressively woo working-class women, he has no skill with proper ladies.
In a conversation with his daughter, Kate, Mr. Hardcastle describes Marlow as a scholar: young, handsome, brave, and generous. He is also, however, “one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in the world.” These qualities set Kate against him, because “a reserved lover . . . always makes a suspicious husband.” Marlow’s reported good looks, however, make the situation not impossible. In a soliloquy, Kate wonders: “Yet can’t he be cured of his timidity by being taught to be proud of his wife?”
Sir Charles Marlow
Sir Charles Marlow has recommended his son, Marlow, as a suitable husband for his old friend Mr. Hardcastle’s daughter Kate.
Constance, Mrs. Hardcastle’s niece, inherited jewels from her uncle, a director of the East India Company. Mrs. Hardcastle controls Constance’s inheritance and she greedily hopes to keep these jewels in the family by marrying Constance to Tony, who has no romantic affection for Constance.
Constance loves and wants to marry Hastings, but is reluctant to elope and lose her jewels and Mr. Hardcastle’s blessing. Not blindly materialistic, but practical, her attitude toward money and marriage resembles that of Jane Austin’s heroines Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility and Jane Bennet inPride and Prejudice.
Several servants fumble about awkwardly in the second act as Mr. Hardcastle attempts to train these farm workers in the niceties of London dinner service, with little success and a good deal of comedy.
M.H Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham describes setting in their book A Glossary of Literary Terms (1957) on pp. 362 as ,
“ The overall “setting” of a narrative or dramatic work is the general locale, historical time, and social circumstances in which its action occurs.. ”
The physical setting of She Stoops to Conquer (1773) is more of
a rural side. Most of the action of the play takes place in the “old
mansion” in English countryside and a brief episode occurs in a
nearby tavern “The Three Pigeons” The play was performed in
1773 thus the time of it is 18th century (Romantic era). Formal
education was not a prominent feature of society and main
medium of transport were carts and horses. Examples from the
• “Scene I–A chamber in an old fashioned house” (Setting of Act I , scene I )
• “Mrs.Hardcastle: Here we live in an old rumbling mansion”(1,1)
• “Tony: I can’t stay, I tell you. The Three Pigeons expects me down every moment.There’s some fun going forward.
Hardcastle: Ay;the alehouse, the old place:I thought so.”(1,1)
• “Marlow: . . . We were told it was but forty miles across the
country, and we come above threescore!”(i.e the distance of this rural area is 60 miles from city) (1,2)
• “Servant:Your fan,muff,and gloves,madam.The horses are
waiting.”(Indicates the mode of transport) (4,1).
M.H Abrams and Geoffrey Galt Harpham describes simile in A Glossary of Literary Terms (1957) on pp.133 as ,
“In a simile , a comparison between two distinctly
different things is explicitly indicated by the word
“like” or “as”.”
Goldsmith uses an explicit wide range of comparisons in his
dramatic masterpiece She Stoops to Conquer (1773). He
compares humans with animals ( ‘ rabbits ’ , ‘ hare ’ ) , inanimate
objects ( ‘ wheels’ , ‘ cushion’ ) , supernatural creatures like
“mermaid” and much more. Examples from the text :
• “ Hardcastle : When company comes, you are not to pop out and
stare , and then run in again, like frightened rabbits in a
Tony : I have seen her since the height of that. She has as many
tricks as a hare in a thicket, or a colt the first day’s breaking.”(2,1)
• “ Tony : . . . she has two eyes as black as sloes , and cheeks as
broad as and red as a pulpit cushion.” (2,1)
• “ Tony : Vanish. She’s here, and has missed them already. Zounds!
How she fidgets and spits about like a catherine wheel.”
(catherine: wheel of fireworks) (3,1)
• “Marlow : Yes , as merry as cards , suppers , wine and old women
can make us.” (3,1)
• “Tony : I’m sure I always loved cousin Con’s hazel eyes, and her
pretty long fingers, that she twists this way and that, over the
haspicholls, like a parcel of bobbins.” (4,1)
• “Tony: Never fear me. Here she comes. Vanish. She’s got from the
pond, and draggled up to the waist like a mermaid.” (5,2)
• “ Tony : . . . Ah, it’s a highwayman , with pistols as long as my arm.
A damned ill looking fellow.” (5,2)
M.H Abrams and George Galt Harpham describes Allusion in A Glossary
of Literary Terms (1957) on pp.13 as ,
“ Allusion is a passing reference , without explicit
identification, to a literary or historical person, place , or
event, or to another literary work or passage.”
Prolific writer of “The Club” – Oliver Goldsmith has used several
allusions in his drama. He has made reference to some legendary
masterpiece like Hamlet of Shakespeare . He also has referred to Greek mythology in order to satire the sentimental comedy and mentioned
certain guides for betterment of household ways and curing diseases.
Examples from the text :
• “The Comic Muse , long sick , is now a- dying!” (Prologue)
Explanation: “Comic Muse” refers to the Muse of comedy which is
“sick” due to the development of sentimental comedy . Muse of
comedy was known as “Thalia” –one of 9 goddesses who
influenced writers, musicians and various artists.
• “Marlow: We wanted no ghost to tell us that.” (1,2)
Explanation:This refers to Shakespear’s Hamlet (1599 ?) where
the ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him about his uncle being his
murderer– the truth.
• “SONG : . . . Their Lethes, their Styxes and Stygians . . .”(1,2)
Explanation : In Greek mythology “Lethes” “Styxes” and “Stygians”
are rivers flowing in the underworld – Hell. Reincarnated souls
drink from “Lethe” to forget all about past before they get a
rebirth whereas Styx is the river in Hell which the souls cross while
crossing Hades. Tony while satirizing the methodists and the
educationists of the age says that let them “brag” of these notions
of hell while they present themselves nothing but fools.
• “Tony : Not so low , neither. There’s Dick Muggins the exciseman,
Jack Slang the horse doctor, Little Aminadab that grinds the
music-box, and Tom Twist that spins the pewter platter.” (1,1)
Explanation: “Aminadab” is the name of a Hebrew prophet and is
used mostly for a person of colour or when referring to a Jew.
Here the “Little” means the person Tony is referring to is a child.
• “Mrs.Hardcastle: Lord, Mr. Hardcastle, you’re for ever at your
Dorothys and your old wifes. You may be Darby, but I’ll be no Joan,
I promise you. . .” (1,1) Explanation : This is a reference to a
popular ballad by Henry Woodfall (1739-1805). This ballad tells a
story about an old married couple – Darby and Joan.
• “Hardcastle: . . . Since that, I no more trouble my head about
Heyder Ally or Ally Cawn , than about Ally Croker. Sir, my service to you.”(2,1) Explanation : Heyder Ally was the famous Sultan of
Mysore ( 1717- 82) where Ally Croker was a famous ballad
alternatively called “ Allicia Croker ” by Larry Grogan in 1725.
• “Hardcastle : . . . Your generalship puts me in mind of Prince
Eugene when he fought the Turks at the battle of Belgrade. You
shall hear”(2,1) Explanation : Prince Eugene of Savoy was a
general of the Imperial army and statesman of Roman Empire. In
1697 Thousands of Turkish soldiers were dead in a brutal war by
• “Hastings : (To him) Cicero never spoke better. . .” (2,1)
Explanation: Cicero (106-43 BC) was a famous Roman statesman
and orator , popularly known for his mastery in Latin prose.
• “Tony : Ecod ! you had reason to weep, for you have been dosing
me ever since I was born. I have gone through every receipt in the
complete Housewife ten times over; and you have thoughts of
cursing me through Quincy next spring. But , ecod! I tell you, I’ll
not be made a fool no longer.”(2,1) Explanation : There are two
Allusions in Tony’s dialogue where he makes a reference of Eliza
Smith’s The Compleat Housrwife – a guide for housewives for a
perfect command on household and some medical cures. He also
refers to “Quincy” which is John Quincy’s Pharmacoepia
Officinalis et Extemporanea – book based on wide range on
diseases and how to take care or cure them at home. Though it
was prevalent at the time that these books were useless and had
no real solutions.
• “ Miss Hardcastle : . . . Don’t you think I look something like the Beaux’ Stratagem?” (3,1) Explanation : The Beaux
Stratagem (1707) is a comedy by George Farquhar . Cherry is an
important character in the play who is daughter of innkeeper and
falls in love with Archer and greatly contributes to comic spirit and
humour of play.
• “Hardcastle : There are a set of prints, too. What think you of the
Rake’s progress , for your own apartment ?” (4,1) Explanation:
Hardcastle here refers to William Hogarth’s (1697- 1764) series of
paintings eight in number , that depicted life of a character Tom
Rakewell whose life was eventually ruined due to his particular
chaotic way of life.
M.H Abrams and George Galt Harpham define Metaphor in A Glossary
of Literary Terms (1957) on pp 133 as ,
“ In a metaphor , a word or expression that in literal
usage denotes one kind of thing is applied to a distinctly
different kind of thing, without asserting a comparison.”
Goldsmith wrote She Stoops to Conquer not for merely laughter but it is highly satirical and he uses most of his metaphors to comment on his time of theatre and Drama . He incorporates metaphors which purpose of satire and commentary on contemporary age issues .
Examples from the text :
• “A doctor comes this night to show his skill.” (Prologue)
Explanation: “Doctor” here refers to Goldsmith who is on his
journey to cure the diseased world of comedy which is engulfed
by the sentiments and weeping emotions.
• “A kind of magic charm ― for be assur’d . . .” (Prologue)
Explanation : “Magic Charm” in the line means laughter which is
lost in “sentimental comedy” . Goldsmith being the doctor
prescribes a potion i.e “ magic charm” .
“ He in five draughts prepar’d , presents a potion: . . .” (Prologue)
Explanation : Here “five draughts” means the 5 acts of the play –
She Stoops to Conquer .
• “ One hope remains – hearing the maid was ill, . . .” (Prologue)
Explanation : Here the “maid” is the theatre of the time dwelled in
sentimentalism , thus referred as ill .
• “Miss Neville: A fortune like mine , which chiefly consists in jewels ,
is no such mighty temptation. . .” ( 1,1) Explanation : “Jewels” is a
metaphor that is used several times in the play and is
representation of marriage market of the time and objectification
of women. In 18th century England old families with old wealth
would search for new families with new money . Thus Miss Neville
‘s inherited wealth from his father represents this market of the
• “Marlow : . . . But ,to me, a modest woman , dressed out in all her
finery , is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.” (2,1)
Explanation : Objectification of women.
• “Marlow : Yet , George , if we open the campaign too fiercely at
first , we may want ammunition before it is over. . .” (2,1)
Explanation : “Ammunition” here is a metaphor for stock of fine
• “Hastings: So then , like an experienced general , you attack them
on every quarter . . .” (2,1) Explanation : Goldsmith uses a blend of
simile and metaphor here. He uses a military metaphor – “attack”
• “ Marlow : . . . just by the way of trial , of the nectar of your lips . .
.” (3,1) Explanation : “Nectar” refers to beauty and sweetness of
Miss. Hardcastle’s lips .
M.H Abrams and George Galt Harpham describes Satire in A Glossary of
Literary Terms (1957) on pp. 352 as ,
“Satire can be described as the literary art of diminishing
or derogating a subject by making it ridiculous and
evoking toward it attitudes of amusement , contempt,
scorn or indignation.”
Goldsmith satirizes the contemporary comedy and English society of
the time. Right from the time of Prologue the weeping essence of the
comedy of that age is ridiculed by Goldsmith. Throughout the play ,
many more features of society have been criticised like marriage ,
romantic love, objectification of women etc. Examples from the text :
• “Hardcastle : . . . But is not the whole age in a combination to
drive sense and discretion out of doors? . . .”(1,1). This is a satire
on age where Goldsmith says that good sense and right thinking
are not what people of that time possessed.
“SONG” in Act I scene 2 , The song criticizes the methodist
preachers and school masters which presented a contrasted faith
then that of Anglicans.
• “Marlow : Pardon me, madam. . . The folly of most people is
rather an object of mirth than uneasiness.” (2,1) Goldsmith
satirizes the sentimental comedy by saying that this play is meant
for light-hearted laughter on the shortcomings of humans and not
a serious environment is in need.
• “Miss Hardcastle : As most profest admirers do : said some civil
things of my face , talked much of his want of merit . . . “ (5,1)
Here is a satire on the romantic love or “undying love” that most
men claim of having that Miss Hardcastle is already aware of.
Goldsmith uses aptronyms for adding the effect of comedy and also reveal the nature of certain characters. Examples from the text :
• “ Mrs. Hardcastle : . . . and little Cripplegate , the lame dancing-
master. . .”(1,1)
• “ Hardcastle : . . . when I went to make a bow , I popped my bald
head in Mrs. Frizzle’s face !” (1,1) “ Frizzle” ― To curl or crisp as
• “ Tony : . . . Well, Stingo, what’s the matter ? (1,2) “Stingo” is a
slang for strong beer.
Hardcastle : You , Diggory , whom I have taken from the barn ,
are to make a show at the side-table; . . .” (2,1) “Diggory” taken
from word “digging” as Diggory has been taken from the field and
made a servant.
• “ Mrs. Hardcastle : . . . and have all the fashions as they come out,
in a letter from the two Miss Rickets of Crooked Lane . . .” (2,1)
Rickets is a disease caused by deficiency of Vitamin C that results
in deformation hence “Crooked Lane” .
• “Miss Neville: . . . I shall certainly be locked up, or sent to my aunt
Pedigree’s which is ten times worse. . .” (4,1) “Pedigree” means
good breeding or ancestry which means that Miss Nevilles aunt
would be of high class.
• “Mrs. Hardcastle : . . . and we’ll put off the rest of his education ,
like Dr. Drowsy’s sermons, to a fitter opportunity.”(4,1) A teacher
whose sermons let people fall asleep.
M.H Abrams and George Galt Harpham defines Irony and types of irony
in A Glossary of Literary Terms (1957) on pp 185 as,
“ In most modern critical uses of the term “irony” , there
remains the root sense of dissembling , or of hiding what
is actually the case– not ,however , in order to deceive ,
but to achieve special rhetorical or artistic effects.”
Verbal Irony : on pp 186,
“ Verbal irony . . . is a statement in which the meaning
that a speaker implies differs sharply from the meaning
that is ostensibly expressed.”
Examples from the text:
• “Hardcastle : . . . Ay , you have taught him finely!” (1,1) (Ironic
comment on his wife and her son’s upbringing)
• “Hardcastle : . . . O , there he goes. ―A very consumptive figure,
truly!”(1,1) ( Ironic comment on Tony and his bad habit of alcohol.)
Dramatic Irony : on pp 187
“Dramatic Irony involves a situation in a play or a narrative in
which the audience or reader shares with the author knowledge
of present or future circumstances of which a character is
ignorant . . .”
Examples from text:
• Tony’s practical joke on Marlow and Hasting about the “old
mansion” as an “inn”. Audience knew that this will result in a
chaotic and comic world but characters remain unaware of it.
• Marlow and Hasting’s behaviour towards Hardcastle as they take
him merely an innkeeper . Audience understand the jokes though
characters only get annoyed.
Situational Irony :
“ It involves a discrepancy between what is expected to
happen and what actually happens.”
Examples from text :
• The “letter” that Hasting writes for Tony accidently turns up in
hands of Mrs. Hardcastle and she ruins the plan of elopement of
Hasting and Miss. Neville.
• The “jewels” which Tony steals from her mother’s cupboard in
order to give it to Hasting end up being in her mother’s hand
again by the mistake of Marlow.
SOLILOQUY AND ASIDE :
M.H Abrams and George Galt Harpham defines Soliloquy and Aside in
A Glossary of Literary Terms (1957) on pp 368 and 369 ,
“Soliloquy is the act of talking to oneself , whether
silently or aloud. In drama it denotes the convention by
which a character , alone on the stage , utters his or her
• There are total 4 Soliloquies in the play with Act 3 , Act 4 and Act 5
having no Soliloquies .
• Act 1 has three Soliloquies spoken by Hardcastle , Miss Hardcastle
and Tony Lumpkin.
“HARDCASTLE. (solus.) Ay, there goes a pair that only spoil each
other. But is not the whole age in a combination to drive sense
and discretion out of doors? There’s my pretty darling Kate! the
fashions of the times have almost infected her too. By living a
year or two in town, she is as fond of gauze and French frippery as
the best of them.” (1,1)
“MISS HARDCASTLE. (Sola). Lud, this news of papa’s puts me all in
a flutter. Young, handsome: these he put last; but I put them
foremost. Sensible, good-natured; I like all that. But then reserved
and sheepish; that’s much against him. Yet can’t he be cured of
his timidity, by being taught to be proud of his wife? Yes, and
can’t I–But I vow I’m disposing of the husband before I have
secured the lover.”(1,1)
“TONY. (solus). Father-in-law has been calling me whelp and
hound this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged
upon the old grumbletonian. But then I’m afraid–afraid of what?
I shall soon be worth fifteen hundred a year, and let him frighten
me out of THAT if he can.”(1,2)
• Act 2 has one soliloquy spoken by Miss Hardcastle :
“MISS HARDCASTLE. (Alone.) Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such a
sober, sentimental interview? I’m certain he scarce looked in my
face the whole time. Yet the fellow, but for his unaccountable
bashfulness, is pretty well too. He has good sense, but then so
buried in his fears, that it fatigues one more than ignorance. If I
could teach him a little confidence, it would be doing somebody
that I know of a piece of service. But who is that somebody?–
That, faith, is a question I can scarce answer.” (2,1)
“A related stage device is the aside , in which a character
expresses to the audience his or her thought or intention
in a short speech which , by convention , is inaudible to
the other characters on the stage.”
She Stoops to Conquer has total of 33 asides :
• Act 1 : No Aside.
• Act 2 : 16 Asides , For example :
“Hardcastle : (Aside) Their impudence confounds me.”
• Act 3 : 3 Asides , For example :
“ Marlow : (Aside) All’s well , she don’t laugh at me.”
• Act 4 : 10 Asides , For example :
“ Hardcastle: (Aside) I begin to loose my patience.”
• Act 5 : 4 Asides , For example :
“ Tony : Father-in-law , by all that’s unlucky , come to take one of
his night walks.”
Questions and answer Section
1. Is it a Laughing Comedy in protest of Sentimental Comedy?
Ans:When the play was first produced, it was discussed as an example of the revival of laughing comedy over the sentimental comedy . Truly speaking it is a comic laughing comedy in celebration of fun, frolic and humour .The affectation of sentimentalism and moralization is altogether omitted here.
2.How is She Stoops to Conquer a Comedy of Manners?
Ans:The play can also be seen as a comedy of manners, where, set in a polite society, the comedy arises from the gap between the characters’ attempts to preserve standards of polite behaviour that contrasts to their true behaviour.
3.How is She Stoops to Conquer A Romantic comedy?
Ans:It also seen by some critics as a romantic, which depicts how seriously young people take love, and how foolishly it makes them behave (similar to Shakespeare’s A midsummer Night’s Dream); in She Stoops to Conquer, Kate’s stooping and Marlow’s nervousness are good examples of romantic comedy.
4. Write a short note on humour as used in She Stoops to Conquer.
Ans: Oliver Goldsmith‘s She Stoops to Conquer is one of the most hilarious comedies produced on the English stage. Here is profusion of pure fun and humour. Humour in the play is mainly derived from three sources- comic situations, comic characters and comic dialogues. If there are mistaken identities or situation, there are incompatible comic personae with the sting of verbal wit.
5.How is She Stoops to Conquer A Satire?
Ans: She Stoops to Conquer can also be seen as a soft satire, where characters are presented as either ludicrous or eccentric. Such a comedy might leave the impression that the characters are either too foolish or corrupt to ever reform. Through farcical humour, Goldsmith ridicules the craze for fashion in Mrs Hardcastle, spoiled child in Tony Lumpkin, duel personality in Marlow, the class-consciousness of the English society in several stooping etc.
6. critically comments on the Title of the play and its source.
Ans:The title refers to Kate’s ruse of pretending to be a barmaid to reach her goal. It originates in the poetry of Dryden, which Goldsmith may have seen misquoted by Lord Chesterfield In Chesterfield‘s version, the lines in question read: “The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies, But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.”
7. what kind of stooping do you find in She Stoops to Conquer?
Ans: As the title indicates the play revolves around several stooping made by the various characters. Marlow stoops physically to win the heart of Kate .While Kate stoops socially to win the heart of Marlow. Both Hastings and Neville, on the other hand, have moral stooping en route their love and marriage.
8. critically comment on the subtitle of the play?
Ans:The alternative title of the play Mistakes of the Night refers to the several mistakes that Marlow committed during a single night. It also illustrates that the unity of time is carefully observed in the play. With all of the events occurring in a single night, the plot becomes far more stimulating too.
9. Comment on the improbability in She Stoops to Conquer.
Ans: In the play She Stoops to Conquer all the mistakes and all funny things including three hours delusory journey of Mrs. Hardcastle round and round the garden take place in a single night which violates probability of time. Even the misconception identities of different characters are also seemingly impractical.
10. what are the different views on fashion of Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle?
Ans: Mrs. Hardcastle hates whatever old she finds and often shows madness of Londontrips. She wishes to shun off old fashioned trumpery, while her husband is passionate after olds. Old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines, military metaphors and his old wife are indeed the fashionable world for Mr. Hardcastle.
11. Write a character sketch of Mr. Hardcastle.
Ans: Mr. Hardcastle is a replica of Dr. Primrose of The Vicar of The Wakefield. He is an old fashioned patriarch who rules over his family with a nice deal of leniency who always inculcates on his family the lessons of simplicity and the solid virtue of good old times. He is a loving friend and a patient host too. He is indeed a pen portrait of the English gentleman.
12.Give acquaintance with the following characters in She Stoops to Conquer: Bridget, Bet Bouncer
Ans: these are the minor characters in the play .Bridget is the maid servant in Mr. Hardcastle’s house. While Bet Bouncer is the country girl with whom Tony has a love affair. Tony loves her dearly and for this he dislikes Miss Neville, the lady of his mother’s choice for his marriage.
13. Describe the reception of Marlow and Hastings by Mr. Hardcastle.
Ans: when the two guests, Marlow and Hastings finally appear, Mr. Hardcastle pays a grand cordial reception. He acts friendly and frankly manner. He tells them his house a liberty hall and always he is on behest of them. He talks too much to meet every attention.
14. “One hope remains….” Mr Woodward speaks of in the prologue to She Stoops to Conquer. Which of the hope remained according to him?
Ans: according to Mr. Woodward the comic muse Thalia is in death-bed and is awaiting death in the hands of sentimental comedy. Yet, there is one hope because one doctor named goldsmith has produce a true comedy with the essence of laughter. Mr. Woodward thinks that goldsmith’s five act drama She Stoops to Conquer must be a successful antidote.
15. How is Mr. Colman, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Woodward and David Garrick associated with Goldsmith’s play?
Ans: Mr. Colman, whose full name is George Colman, was the manager of the Convent Garden Theater where She Stoops to Conquer was staged for the first time.
Dr. Johnson, renowned critic and a common friend of goldsmith and David Garrick, is a man of Goldsmith’s earnest admiration to whom Goldsmith dedicates his play, She Stoops to Conquer .
Mr. Woodward, another friend of Dr. Johnson and Goldsmith and a popular stage actor, reads the prologue to She Stoops to Conquer written by David Garrick.
16. Why Tony Lumpkin is so important a character in She Stoops to Conquer?
Ans: Tony is the pivotal point, the main spring of action in the play. Vivid and vibrant as well as well individualized and dramatized such a character cuts jokes, plays pranks, pokes fun and evokes loud laughter. So to cut Tony from the play what remains is anything but not Oliver Goldsmith‘s She Stoops to Conquer.
17. “zounds, man! We could as soon find out the longitude”…who says this’ to whom, and, when does he say so?
Ans: Here Marlow says this to Tony Lumpkin when the latter gives a confusing road direction to Marlow and Hastings to the house of Mr. Hardcastle like Lorenzo to his father in Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of the Venice. Such a confusing location and windy way is difficult to locate and is as difficult as finding out the middle of the earth, the longitude.