She Stoops To Conquer - What Accounts For Its Endu Essay

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She Stoops To Conquer - What Accounts For Its Enduring Popularity?

She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy play written by Oliver Goldsmith. It has been loved
since it was written. When it was first performed, some people did not approve of it as it
attacked the normal sort of play style at the time, which was sentimental comedy.
Personally I think the play is very whimsical and funny both on stage acted and just the
words used.


Sentimental comedy involved characters to be very typical, for example, the heroine was
shy and romantic, the hero was brave and bold, and romance and love was above everything
else. In She Stoops to Conquer Miss Neville and Hastings are in love, and they planned to
elope to France, yet their plans are foiled. While Hastings wants them to get married
anyway, Miss Neville is sensible and does the exact opposite of a sentimental comedy
heroine, and puts money and her father's wishes first, by saying:


"MISS NEVILLE: In a moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance."

Servants were not allowed to be centre stage, but in She Stoops to Conquer a whole scene
is dedicated to the servants and their incapability of being servant-like.


In sentimental comedy plays, when something unhappy happened, the general idea was to be
sad, yet Marlow in She stoops to Conquer attacks this idea by commenting:


"MARLOW: Pardon me, madam. I was always willing to be amused. The folly of most people is
rather an object of mirth than uneasiness."


When Hastings finally declares his love for Miss Neville to her uncle, Mr Hardcastle, Mrs
Hardcastle can't take such romantic talk:


"MRS HARDCASTLE: Pshaw, pshaw, this is all but the whining end of a modern novel," modern
novels were of course written in sentimental style. She is complaining about this, even
though this is one of the only cases of sentimental comedy creeping into the play. This
new style of play was very different to the old style, so once people got used to it they
began to enjoy the more funny and light-hearted parts. These days we are used to it, but
it would have been a much more boring play if there was sentimental comedy involved.


The basic plot of the play is about everyone being confused and tricked. Marlow is very
shy and timid around women of the same and upper class to him, yet when talking to lower
classes he is loud and often rude. Tony, Mrs Hardcastle's son, tricks Marlow and Hastings
into believing that the house they were going to visit is actually a pub. They treat Mr
Hardcastle like a landlord, and they wonder why he is so talkative:


"MARLOW: Well, this is the first time I ever heard of an innkeeper's philosophy."

Mr Hardcastle wants Marlow to court his daughter Kate Hardcastle. Yet when Marlow meets
Kate he cannot get his words out:


"MARLOW: (Relapsing into timidity) Pardon me, madam, I-I-I-"

Kate decides to trick Marlow and dresses up like a barmaid. Suddenly, without realising
she is the same person, he gets very bold:


"MARLOW: Suppose I should call for a taste, just by way of trial, of the nectar of your lips..."

She pretends to not understand he wants a kiss, and answers that they don't have any wine of that type, and then says:

"MISS HARDCASTLE: Pray, sir, keep your distance. One would think you wanted to know one's
age as they do horses, by mark of mouth."


The confusion of Mr Hardcastle and Marlow is entertaining on stage, as neither knows what
is going on. Marlow is totally unaware that Kate and the barmaid are the same, and Mr
Hardcastle is very confused by the rudeness of Marlow and Hastings. Mrs Hardcastle was
also tricked during the play, as she had always thought that Miss Neville and her son Tony
were in love. Yet at the end he tells her he will not marry Miss Neville. Everyone praises
him, but she ends the play with:


"MRS HARDCASTLE: My undutiful offspring," which is funny as it is the opposite of everyone else's comments.

The actual characters of She Stoops to Conquer are cleverly done and have a lot of
personality. Mrs. Hardcastle thinks she is very beautiful, and follows all the latest
fashions from London. Marlow and Hastings enjoy teasing her about her clothes, yet she
thinks they are serious:


"MRS HARDCASTLE: Seriously? Then I shall be too young for the fashion."

She also thinks she is still young, and can't admit to her age:

"HARDCASTLE: Let me see, twenty and twenty, makes just fifty and seven."

This is funny, as most women today don't like saying their age and can relate to her
feelings. Mr Hardcastle tells her he likes an old wife, which is one of the worst things
he could say to her, as she thinks she is not old:


"HARDCASTLE: ...and I believe Dorothy, (taking her hand) you'll own I have been pretty fond of an old wife."

Mrs Hardcastle is very fond of her son Tony Lumpkin. She has a lot of motherly love, and
again the audience can relate to this, and they find it amusing as the play is taking the
mickey and exaggerating everything:


"MRS HARDCASTLE: I'm actually afraid of his lungs," when really Tony is really fine, his
only problem being he drinks too much.


At the end of the play, Tony tricks her into thinking they are lost in the middle of
nowhere, yet really they are at the bottom of their garden. She is very scared, and
mistakes Mr Hardcastle for a highwayman. When all is revealed Mrs Hardcastle is very angry
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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