She Stoops to Conquer Characters Analysis

She Stoops to Conquer Characters Analysis 



She Stoops to Conquer Characters


Oliver Goldsmith's 'She Stoops to Conquer' is essentially a comedy of situation where the hero, young Marlow,accompanied by his friend Hastings steps into the old-fashioned house of Mr. Hardcastle. Then one after another many funny incidents take place where other characters like - Mrs. Hardcastle, Kate Hardcastle, Tony Lumpkin are involved. So, in the play, 'She Stoops to Conquer' there are five major characters (young Marlow, Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle, Kate Hardcastle and Tony Lumpkin) who are very much involved in the action of the play.


Characters Analysis in She Stoops to Conquer:

 1. Character of Young Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer:


Young Marlow is evidently the hero of the play, She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. Though he comes of a very distinguished family, he feels strangely shy and lacks confidence in the company of high-born and sophisticated ladies. His modesty and bashfulness, however, do not hinder him when he faces common women. He does not belong to the gallants or classes of daring lovers. Even he lacks the initiative of a lover that Hastings, his friend, possesses. 

Marlow is quite at ease in his talks with Kate whom he takes for a barmaid. He is neither very much eager about Miss Kate as he has no special fascination for the ladies of the elegant society. One plausible explanation may be that young Marlow spent most of his time in the college or an inn in seclusion far away from the ladies of sophisticated society. So the very idea of courtship sends a chill down his spine.

Thus, mischievous Tony's misdirection about the location of Mr. Hardcastle's house comes as boon in disguise for Marlow. That is why Marlow, not being a close observer, takes Mr. Hardcastle for an inn-keeper and his daughter Kate, who is simply dressed, for the barmaid. But Marlow, according to to his own confession, was never familiar or acquainted with a singularly modest woman. So he easily believes that the old house of Hardcastle is a way-side inn. What follows is that here Marlow meets Miss Kate Hardcastle and enacts the pivotal scene of the play. The complication of the plot grows right from here, of course, for a final but happy resolution. 

Thus Marlow without being embarrassed in any way freely chats with Kate and even tries somewhat forcibly to imprint a kiss on her face. Marlow is simply charmed in love of Kate and her beauty. This is a welcome development for the romantic comedy. Marlow is bent on winning the hands of Kate who also wants to test and conquer the heart of Marlow as a simple barmaid. Kate on the mistaken identity creates a lot of innocent fun for the audience. 

At last, Marlow discovers his mistake, that Kate is the daughter of Mr. Hardcastle and their house is not an inn.

During the second meeting between Marlow and Kate Hardcastle, the former proposes to run away from Hardcastle's house. Prior to that he profusely apologises for taking their house as an inn. Kate with tears in her eyes persuades him not to leave their house. And Marlow is instantly moved. But still then Marlow knows Kate as a poor relative of the Hardcastles. Kate is successful in finally conquering Marlow. 

Thus Marlow's dual role is over. As a visitor to a supposed inn he may have overshot himself and showed some slapdash in behaving with Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle. But he is his usual modest and bashful self in the enlightened company of Mr. Hardcastle. Only his temporary deviation from the natural self helps to bring together Kate and Marlow in a marital union.

 2. Character of Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops  to Conquer:

Kate Hardcastle is admittedly the heroine of the play. Being the only child of her father, she is somewhat self-willed. But her affectionate and frank father has given her a long freedom. She honours the trust reposed in her. She learns from her father that young Marlow, the son of a closed friend of Mr Hardcastle, is coming to their house. Her father also tells her that Marlow is a handsome and generous young man but he is shy and reserved, especially in the company of young ladies of high society. 

Kate decides to cure this defect of Marlow. She plans to appear before Marlow in the simple dress of a country girl. Though she loves dressing up, her father does not stand in the way. Soon that crucial meeting takes place. For being mischievously misguided by Tony Lumpkin, Marlow and his companion (George Hastings) take Mr. Hardcastle's house as an inn. He mistakes Kate for a barmaid. So Marlow takes things easy and talks with Kate freely and even intimately. 

Kate is now determined to win him as she has started liking him. She cleverly keeps up her disguise and speaks about Marlow - "I never realised before what a fine man he is, he shall not go." She instinctively understands that to make Marlow break ice she should not reveal her identity of an aristocratic descent. Thus, Kate is an intelligent, ingenious and resourceful young lady. 

Thus Kate helps Marlow to come out of his shell of reserveness. Kate introduces herself as a poor relative of Hardcastle. This rouses Marlow's chivalric sense. She plays her part well with determination and tact. Marlow is charmed and he grasps Kate's hand to peck the nectarine kiss. Kate frees herself. But this does not escape the notice of Mr. Hardcastle. So Marlow has to withdraw temporarily. 

Soon Marlow reappears and speaks his mind. He professes his love for Kate. Kate sees to it that Marlow's stiff shyness should not be allowed to come in the way and of their union. Her first duty is to pacify her father and soften his adverse attitude to Marlow. She intercedes and testifies to Marlow's worth. She sizes up the whole situation. Kate now prepares herself for the final ordeal. A makebelieve scene is arranged between Kate and Marlow. It is observed secretly by Mr Hardcastle and Sir Charles. Young Marlow professes his love for Kate and proposes, falling on his knees. 

Thus Kate Hardcastle transforms Marlow by her prompt determination and temporary stopping down and conquers him as her husband. 

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3. Character of Tony Lumpkin in She Stoops to Conquer:

Tony is the so of Mr. Lumpkin, Mrs. Hardcastle's first husband. Over-indulgence of mother (Mrs Hardcastle) has only spoilt him. He is an idle fellow and spends most of his time in evil company. He passes for an under-aged boy though actually he is an adult. Her mother has resorted to this pretext only not to allow Tony to enjoy the fortune of 15 hundred sterling a year fixed on him. His mother encourages him in over-eating, drinking. She is of the opinion that Tony does not want much formal education and struggle too much for spending fifteen hundred a year. As a result, he gets too fat,out of all proportions. Thus, Tony typifies the rich and leisurely youth of the age. He gets through his time by burning the servants' shoes, frightening the maids and worrying the cat.

It is one of such mischievous and practical prank of Tony that creates the most important situation of the play - the pivotal situation. So his role is virtually that of the kingpin. However, Tony is not an altogether washout or spoilt child. He is the mainspring of mirth and fun, the comic elements of the play. Thus he provides variety that is so entertaining. He is not an imprudent fellow. 

It is he who is instrumental in creating several comic situations in the play. He is good at heart, clever and quite ready-witted. In the end he firmly rejects Miss Neville, inspire of all the persuasion and threats of his mother who initially misguided him. He easily overcomes greed of the jewel box of Miss Neville. He is truly a lad of spirit and a good-natured creature at bottom. 

So in the end we feel for him as he remains unmarried. Our good wishes are for his singly blessed life. 

4. Character of Mr. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer:

Mr. Hardcastle is a typical country aristocrat of 18th century England. He is rather old-fashioned and conservative in taste, though he tries to be modern. He is fond of old books, old stories and old wine. Mrs. Hardcastle is his second wife who is very much after modern fashions and ways of life. Tony, her son by the first husband, is a problem youth. Yet, Mr. Hardcastle tolerates him and takes a light view of his excesses and mischiefs. 

Mr. Hardcastle has a lofty sense of dignity and morality. He will not pardon Marlow as he treated him as the landlord or inn-keeper. His moral sense also is very high. He took strong exception to young Marlow's conduct when he noticed the latter trying to be more intimate with his daughter, Kate, by holding her hand. Infact, Mr. Hardcastle misses no occasion of moralising. He belongs to the hard-core the old school moral beliefs of his contemporary society.

Mr. Hardcastle has boundless affection for Kate, his only daughter. Naturally, he is very much concerned n getting her happily married. As a husband, he is more or less non-interfering though he can assert himself when the occasion demands. He has in mind the son of Sir Charles Marlow as the suitor and future husband of Kate. He ardently believes that they will be well-matched. He also discloses his plan in this regard to Kate and is Frank with her. But then the situation becomes intriguing. He realises that his second wife is a scheming type of lady and Tony is a wayward boy, likely to create trouble. So he takes a stand-offish attitude. But Mr. Hardcastle is a courteous host and gives all necessary instructions to his domestic servants to be quite modest and obedient to Marlow and his friend. He is easily persuaded to believe that Marlow had no bad intention when he held the hand of Kate and she was found to struggle to free herself. Kate also manages to convince her father that Marlow is a modest and dignified young man. Only on one occasion, Mr. Hardcastle loses his patience when he orders Marlow to leave his house which is mistaken as an inn by Marlow. 

After all, Mr. Hardcastle is a gentleman of jovial temperament. He is kind hearted as well as hospitable by nature. A lot of humour of the play springs from his conduct and words. He is hard only outwardly but underneath that iron exterior there is a sympathetic and understanding string.

5. Character of Mrs. Hardcastle:

Mrs. Dorothy Hardcastle has a son by her first husband, Mr. Lumpkin. Tony is the name of that young son and living as one pampered, wayward boy. Mr. Hardcastle is thus her second husband. She differs a lot from him in taste and temperament. She wants to be a fine lady. She reads fashion magazines to remodel herself. So, to be updated in fashions and phrases, she wants to visit London now and then. Her idea is to look herself younger. She also passes, Tiny her spoilt son, as an under-aged boy. She dislikes her village and village surroundings with rustic neighbours. 

Mrs. Hardcastle's underlying motive is to get Miss Constance Neville married to Tony for the jewels and valuables of Miss Neville. But all her designs and plans are in the end foiled by none other than her beloved son, Tony himself. As the play proceeds, one easily realises that Tony is more intelligent and effective than his mother. Yet she seeks to dominate over the men and affairs of her domestic establishment. 

Mrs. Hardcastle will not part with Miss Neville's jewels. She can not detect, having no true womanly instinct, that Miss Neville does not live her son, Tony. Tony steals Neville's casket of jewels from his mother's custody. Mrs. Hardcastle goes bewildered over the matter, helped by Tony, the real culprit. For all practical purposes she is a lady of dull wit. 

After going through Hastings' secret letter to Tony, Mrs. Hardcastle suspects that Miss Neville is in love with another young man and plans to run away with him. She decides to punish Miss Neville by keeping her confined in Mrs. Pedigree's (aunt of Neville) house. This shows that Mrs. Hardcastle has no real affection or tender feelings for Miss Neville. She is a selfish lady who wants to grab the fortune of Miss Neville for her son, Tony. She again falls into Tony's trap when the mischievous fellow drives the coach with Mrs. Hardcastle and Miss Neville. He takes the inmates of the coach round and round and pretends to have list the way, and frightens them with the dangers of the deep forest. And yet Mrs. Hardcastle covers all the misdoings of Tony as nothing but juvenile pranks. 

Mrs. Hardcastle stands as a pathetic figure, a sight diminished and pitied on when her darling Tony refuses to marry the girl of her choice, Miss Neville. Thus, in the end the table is turned on her. 

Mrs. Hardcastle is a typical fashionable lady of her age. She fully answers to the laughable description of the society ladies of eighteenth century critics. 

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