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Analyze the following quotation from She Stoops to Conquer'? Miss Hardcastle(Aside): By...

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted March 14, 2013 at 7:18 PM via web

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Analyze the following quotation from She Stoops to Conquer'?

Miss Hardcastle(Aside): By heaven, she weeps. This is the first mark of tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it touches me. (to her) Excuse me, my lovely girl, you are the only part of the family I leave with reluctance. But to be plain with you, the difference of our birth, fortune and education, make an honourable connexion impossible; and I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that trusted in my honour, or bringing ruin upon one whose only fault was being too lovely.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 3, 2013 at 7:57 PM (Answer #1)

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This quote is actually spoken by the character of Charles Marlow in Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer. At this point in the play, the actual "stooping to conquer" is actively taking place. 

Knowing Marlow's inability to feel comfortable among women of his class (upper class), and taking the opportunity that Marlow was confused as to where he was actually staying, Miss Kate Hardcastle pretends to be a modest barmaid to get "the best" of him.

Hence, she is stooping (pretending to be a woman of a lower-class status) to conquer his heart. The results are obviously working. In fact, Miss Kate is so effective in her performance that even her pretend cry goes well with Marlow when he swears that he will never show up in the Hardcastle again. She convinces him by playing her role

I hope, sir, I have done nothing to disoblige you.
I'm sure I should be sorry to affront any gentleman who has been so polite, and said so many civil things to me. I'm sure I should be
sorry (pretending to cry) if he left the family upon my account.

This is the first thing that he likes, and the reason why he says "oh, she weeps". However, he is also struggling with the fact that there is a reality: she is still "a barmaid", and he is still an upper-class man. Although he has a weakness for lower-class women, he knows that he has to shake that off before making official his engagement to the woman who, unknown to him, is standing right in front of him pretending to be a barmaid. Therefore, he says

I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that trusted in my honour, or bringing ruin upon one whose only fault was being too lovely.

Meaning that he cannot flirt with simpler women who think well of him, for he could actually end up taking advantage of such admiration, hence, "bringing ruin" (sex, false pretenses, an impossible romance), to a girl whose beauty would be the cause of his impertinence in trying to court her.

However, Kate has plans. She now knows that there is kidness and seriousness in the man. Now she is really interested in him, especially when she has the control of being who she really is, plus, being the fantasy barmaid of Charles's dreams.

I'll still preserve the character in which I STOOPED TO CONQUER; but will undeceive my papa, who perhaps may laugh him out of his resolution.

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