What is the main theme of the play She Stoops to Conquer?

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She Stoops to Conquer has a variety of themes. Appearance versus Reality permeates the play, because main character Marlow can only feel comfortable in his own skin when he is the company of people who are not his peers.

Since Marlow cannot accept his reality, and he needs "the look" of something to find his comfort zone, it is safe to argue that he is guided by the appearance of lower class folk rather than by the real personality of people.

This theme is also evident in the way that Kate had to transform herself in order to get to Marlow. When she "stoops" and poses as a bar maid to get to know Marlow's real personality the roles become reversed and it is she who is basically fooling him.

Similarly, other characters seem to break with the expected social conventions that make men and women behave in a very specific way during courtship. This means that they adopt a personality in public and another personality in person. For example, Kate acts quite proper as her father tells her, but once this ends she is committing the unthinkable by actively pursuing Marlow. Again, this is indicative of the false versus real personalities that the characters adopt.

Other sub-themes include courtship, social conventions, gender roles, and family relationships, but notice how the theme of appearance and reality still affects these subtopics because the basic problem of the play, which is to bring Marlow and Kate together, can only occur when one of them adopts a fake persona.


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