It is interesting how gender roles help shape the characters in the play. Miss Hardcastle begins as a very strong woman, resolving to make the best of her situation no matter the circumstances. She follows in her role as a daughter, but it is clear that her focus is on herself. In public, she behaves in a certain way to maintain appearances, but in private she manages a spider web of deception. It is almost like she doesn’t have a regard for potential consequences, “I shall never be able to manage him. What shall I do? Pshaw, think no more of him, but trust to occurrences for success.” She was putting too much thought into the situation, it would be better to just trust her intuition on how to handle the situation. Things will work out favorably for her, somehow they always do! This viewpoint is more mature than we would expect of a character referred to as being “fond of gauze and French frippery”. Her character is being cast as innocent, maybe even an anti-intellectual. It is a surprise then, when her inner dialogue is so mature. She goes on to outwit everyone in the play, proving that she is the most capable of the sexes.
I also found it interesting how Miss Hardcastle is juxtaposed with Mr. Marlow. Miss Hardcastle is deceitful and cunning, where Mr. Marlow is blunt and honest. Mr. Marlow strictly follows his own code of morals and never breaks it. His steadfastness is a quality that Miss Hardcastle finds endearing and thus furthers the comedy, but it is frustrating to watch his naivete in action. There is a good deal of social commentary happening between the two. Miss Hardcastle promotes women being cunning and sneaky and to go “above the role of a woman”. Mr. Marlow’s character is almost satirical. As a man he must stick to his code of behavior. Its almost as if there is only one possible reaction for any given situation. Mr. Marlow would act predictably all of the time. This predictability helps Miss Hardcastle fool him and everyone.