Book Review: She Stoops To Conquer By Oliver Goldsmith

Genre: Drama, Type: Comedy of Manners/Prose Drama, Year: 1773, Playwright: Oliver Goldsmith. Oliver Goldsmith is best remembered for reviving the Comedy of Manners in the History of English Drama belonged to the Restoration Period. His most well known Prose Drama, ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ was a bombshell in the literary arena during his times.

Overview of the play

She Stoops to Conquer has also been called The Triumph of Tony Lumpkin and The Tragedy of Mrs. Hardcastle. Some critics are of the opinion that, the play should have been titled something related to Tony- his character, his antics, or his personality development. This is true, because, it was Tony Lumpkin who gave a take-off ground to the play.

Mrs. Hardcastle, the mother of Tony Lumpkin, who was a greedy, and ignorant woman was ill at ease with everything around. She had her eyes on the fortunes of Constance Neville, and was hell-bent on getting possession of the jewellery by encouraging Tony Lumpkin to marry her. If the play ever had a villain, Mrs. Hardcastle is the one. although she was not of the vicious kind. The play does not host any tragic incidents or any events of gravity. The play is well saturated with hilarious dialogues between the characters like the opening conversation between Mr. Hardcastle and Mrs. Hardcastle, the pleasure derived by Tony through playing practical jokes on the people around him, etc. The intention Goldsmith had in producing this play was to generate laughter, and he really did succeed. Although Mrs. Hardcastle thinks that, Tony is still under her authority and submits to her whims and wishes, it was Tony who had the upper hand. Indeed, he had been manipulating his mother all along. These manipulations were integral to the progress of the events in the play.

The Plot

The plot is based on a conventionally ordinary event. The main plot originally takes off after Marlow and Hastings met Tony while searching for the house of Mr. Hardcastle. Tony Lumpkin being a mischievous spoilt-brat conjures up a plan to take the two gentlemen for a ride- a ride which lasts till the last part of the play. All the main events occurred within a short time – a night. Not surprisingly, the play was initially titled as Mistakes of a Night.

Characters and Characterization

Unlike other plays of the Restoration Period which were filled with complex characters presented in a labyrinthine plot, She Stoops to Conquer is a play which revolves around the lives of ordinary people - people who had no special attributes. Even the hero of the play exhibits the faults of the average man. He is found to be snobbish and had a pre-conceived attitude about both the women from affluent families and those from lower class. Tony Lumpkin is tied to the apron-strings of her mother, and is not given the chance to act and behave like a man. His mother assumes that he has not come of age. Goldsmith, inspite of numerous limitations succeeded in making the most out of the characters.

The Characters in 'She Stoops to Conquer'

1. Charles Marlow
2. George Hastings
3. Tony Lumpkin
4. Mr Hardcastle
5. Mrs Hardcastle
6. Miss Kate Hardcastle
7. Miss Constance Neville
8. Sir Charles Marlow

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