Please help me explain the following quotation in She Stoops to Conquer?
Miss Hard: 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 don't know- the fellow is well enough for a man- Certainly we don't meet many such at a horse race in the country.
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This quote in Act 3 of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer is said by Miss Hardcastle to her father when both are giving their own opinions about Marlow upon meeting him for the first time.
As we know, Marlow is fooled by Tony into thinking that the Hardcastle residence is the local Inn. As a result, when Marlow enters the alleged Inn, he does what most travelers often did: place their orders, state their stay requirements, and basically make the demands of someone who will be paying for a service in Regency society.
Without knowing it Marlow was basically bossing people around and being rude to them, especially when he is doing these things in the Hardcastle's family home. Since this is the first impression that Mr. Hardcastle gets of Marlow, he declares that he is a fool, impertinent, and badly-mannered.
Miss Hardcastle, who is destined to marry Marlow but had never met him except once before, declared the opposite. Remember that Marlow prefers lower class women and, at the time of this confusion, he also confused Miss Hardcastle with a barmaid. The fact that he thought of her as a barmaid made him automatically open up and show his softer side; something he was not able to do when he first met Miss Hardcastle in her "calling" attire, where he hardly even looked at her face.
Therefore, Mr. Hardcastle's bad impression of Marlow resulted in he telling Miss Hardcastle that the family will reject Marlow as a suitor. However, Miss Hardcastle confronts this decision:
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 don't know--the fellow is well enough for a man--
What she is saying is that there may be a way to find a balance in judging Marlow. Perhaps on a separate occasion she will be the one thinking ill of him while the father will find him kind. In a different scenario, perhaps the father will feel that Marlow is less impudent, meaning, less unfavorable. Similarly, maybe Miss Hardcastle will find him annoying (importunate) while the father might find him respectful. Either way, he is fine enough a gentleman as she had ever seen one. To add to her statement, she also says that, in comparison to the men that she meets in social events, this one is actually not too bad
Certainly, we don't meet many such at a horse-race in the country.
Therefore, what we find here is an effort on the part of Miss Hardcastle to keep her father's blessing in marrying Marlow and, perhaps, give her a second chance to show the side of Marlow that she was able to witness and which she so much appreciated.
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