Illustration of Kate Hardcastle in high society attire on the left, and dressed as a barmaid on the right

She Stoops to Conquer

by Oliver Goldsmith
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"Cicero never spoke better. Once more, and you are confirm'd in assurance for ever." Who speaks these words in She Stoops to Conquer?

These words appear in act 2 of Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer and are spoken by Hastings, Marlow's hedonistic best friend.

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Act 2 of Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer takes place in the Hardcastle manor. Marlow and Hastings are there to have their supper and spend the night, and are not yet aware that Mr. Hardcastle is the lord of the manor. Instead, they think that Mr. Hardcastle...

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Act 2 of Oliver Goldsmith's play She Stoops to Conquer takes place in the Hardcastle manor. Marlow and Hastings are there to have their supper and spend the night, and are not yet aware that Mr. Hardcastle is the lord of the manor. Instead, they think that Mr. Hardcastle is the manor's "inn keeper."

In a hilarious conversation where confusion was rampant and snarky comments abounded, in come Miss Neville and Miss Hardcastle. A conversation ensues where different topics are discussed. At one point, Marlow and Miss Neville talk about the differences between being an active participant in the world versus being an "observer":

MARLOW. (Gathering courage.) I have lived, indeed, in the world, madam; but I have kept very little company. I have been but an observer upon life, madam, while others were enjoying it.

MISS NEVILLE. But that, I am told, is the way to enjoy it at last.

To this, Hastings responds with the phrase that "Cicero never spoke better" as a way to over exaggerate his admiration for Miss Neville's comeback. Cicero was a famous public orator and statesman from ancient Rome who was very famous for the way he did his public speaking. Clearly, Miss Neville is no Cicero, but Hastings does it out of sarcasm.

He will do the same thing to Marlow later on in the conversation because that is just the way that Hastings is. Even though he does seem to appreciate his friend, Marlow, Hastings is hedonistic and lives for his own pleasure, loves to criticize people, and looks down on others.

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