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Please explain a comic event with its reasons and importance in She Stoops to Conquer.

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 7, 2013 at 9:49 PM via web

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Please explain a comic event with its reasons and importance in She Stoops to Conquer.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2013 at 7:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Arguably the most important comic event that occurs in this novel is the event that occurs in Act I scene 2 when Tony, to create mischief and also to get his own revenge on his father-in-law, tells Marlow and Hastings that they have gone astray and sends them to Mr. Hardcastle's house after all, but only tells them that this location is an inn where they can stay and that the landlord wants "to be though a gentleman." Tony does this for his own reasons, as he reveals to the audience in an aside:

Father-in-law has been calling me whelp and hound this half-year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged upon the old grumbletonian.

Tony deliberately misleads Marlow and Hastings for his own purposes, therefore, but the comic consequences of this deception reach far on into the play, as Marlow treats Mr. Hardcastle, his future father-in-law, as if he were a presumptuous servant. This is something that causes great hilarity, especially when the audience witnesses the confusion experienced by Mr. Hardcastle and Kate as they try to reconcile the two radically different Marlows they have both met who are apparently the same person. Kate says that Marlow treated her "with diffidence and respect" whereas her father says that he was rude, "interrupted" him and "asked if I had not a good hand at making punch," treating him with a complete lack of respect. The difference in behaviour is only understood when Tony's trickery is exposed and Marlow realises how he has been duped. This is something that helps establish one of the two motifs of the play which is that of appearances vs. reality. Just as Kate pretends to be two people, so Marlow acts as if he were two people, thanks in part to Tony's deception.

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