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Contradictions

In She Stoops to Conquer, I noticed a lot of emphasis on class. Marlow acts completely differently around woman he believes are of high-class (Kate when he first meets her), and women who he believes are of low-class (Kate when she is disguised as a barmaid). Also, when Hasting and Marlow encounter Mr. Hardcastle, they find him odd when they believe he is of low class, even though his demeanor would be normal for someone of the upper class (they see him as “forget[tting] that he’s an innkeeper, because he has learned to be a gentleman” (16) after observing his laid-back attitude). Also, the play focuses largely on money. Marlow won’t propose to Kate as a barmaid because of the lack of a dowry, and Constance and Hasting’s desire to elope is thwarted by the need for Constance’s inheritance. Throughout the play, I noticed that appearances frequently didn’t match up to reality. Even in the beginning. Mrs. Hardcastle describes her and Mr. Hardcaste’s residence as an “old rumbling mansion that looks for all the world like an inn” (1). Hastings and Marlow are told that Mr. Hardcastle is a landlord, so they treat him as such, even though this appearance is false. Kate appears from both low- and high- class depending on her outfit and appearance, even though she actually is from a high-class.  Marlow is “the modestest man alive” “among women of reputation and virtue,” but a “very different character among [low-class women]” (5). Constance is described is “sensible and silent” when with her possible suitor, but “as loud as a hog in a gate” when she isn’t “before company” (28). Overall, Goldstein seems to be mocking the class and wealth emphasis in society during this time by these contradictions and hypocrisies. The characters in the play are constantly judging and evaluating others based on their level of wealth and class status; it is ironic that the deceiving appearances of the characters causes these judgments to be based on mere assumptions and the judgment of “a book by its cover.”

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One thought on “Contradictions

  1. Many of Marlow’s actions were definitely driven by his perceptions of the class of the people he talks to, and it really makes him out to look like an ass. What surprised me was the fact that Kate was more than okay with his actions to her when he thought she was of lower class. Regardless of what he thought, he disrespected both her and her father and she is just able to look past that because he believed them to be different people. It really shows the character of everyone in the play, and the fact that they all treat the lower classes with the same disrespect for the most part. It seemed like they were all thinking “oh that’s fine Marlow, we would have treated us the same way if we thought we were servants and inn keepers”. I found that to be very telling of their personalities.

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