Analyze the theme of reality vs appearance in She Stoops to Conquer.

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This theme is of course one of the most dominant in the entire play. The comedy is built on a number of mistakes that are innocently made by some characters and deliberately made by others. One of these of course is the way that Tony deliberately misleads Marlow and Hastings into believing that they are staying in an inn where the landlord thinks he belongs to their class, whereas in fact the house belongs to Mr. Hardcastle, the father of the woman whom Marlow has been sent to marry. In the same way, Marlow appears to be either incredibly forward and rude or bashful and timid. In Act III, Mr. Hardcastle complains how he is "one of the most brazen first sights that ever astonished my senses." Kate, by contrast says the following about him:

He met me with a respectful bow, a stammering voice, and a look fixed on the ground.

Of course, neither of these Marlows is the "true" Marlow, as appearances are deceiving and different from the reality. The final major example is the way that Marlow mistakes Kate for a servingwoman, which allows her to work on him so that he is able to confess his love for her. Appearances vs. reality therefore is a key theme in the construction of this play.

Read the study guide:
She Stoops to Conquer

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question