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Can you please clarify this quotation and its meaning? HARDCASTLE. In one thing then we...

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 25, 2013 at 4:08 PM via web

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Can you please clarify this quotation and its meaning?

HARDCASTLE. In one thing then we are agreed--to reject him.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes: but upon conditions. For if you should find him less impudent, and I more presuming--if you find him more respectful, and I more importunate-

I do not understand Kate's speech!

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 28, 2013 at 12:35 AM (Answer #1)

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In this speech in the play She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith,  Kate Hardcastle sounds like she is agreeing with her father, Mr. Hardcastle.  In reality, she is setting up conditions which allow her to control her fate.  The actual words, "For if you (her father) should find him less impudent (less disrespectful or insolent) and I (Kate should find him) more presuming (meaning take liberties such as speech or casual manners instead of the stilted manners of the upper class)---if you find him more respectful (than I find him) and I more importunate (meaning that her father finds him respectful and she find him more annoyingly demanding), she will reject him.  The words mean that Kate is telling her father that even if her father finds this man Mr. Marlow a pleasant, respectful man, if Kate finds him more forward or more demanding than she likes, that Kate will still be in control of the yes or no answer to reject Mr. Marlow as a husband. Remember this is a comedy of mistaken identity, and Goldsmith as an author allows his female character to control her destiny instead of the usual fashion of the women having no say in what happens to them.

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