In the play She Stoops to Conquer how does Kate manage stooping to conquer Marlowe?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kate Hardcastle is a woman who knows what she wants, and how to get it. We find evidence of this in the way that she is able to change personalities. With her father, she does as he pleases, dresses as he wishes, and obeys him wholeheartedly. Yet, she is also able to have open communication with him and she certainly does not act like a shy, man-worshipping nor submissive woman.

You know our agreement, sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits, and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening I put on my housewife`s dress to please you.

In not so many words, Kate is a self-assured woman who is very well aware of who she is.

She even goes as far as to "make a deal" with her father. Women who are submissive are mainly told what to do. Instead, Kate establishes conditions as to what she is expecting of her future husband to do before she finally gets rid of him as a fiance. For her father to allow Kate such liberties is a big deal; it shows two things

  • Kate's strong personality has built leverage in her relationship with males.
  • Kate's strong relationship with her father has transferred onto her relationship with males in general.

This is how we know why Kate knows that she is able to conquer Marlow.

The question of how does she manage to stoop is by beating Marlow at his own game. As an intuitive and intelligent woman, Kate notices Marlow's weakness when he meets women of his own class; he dislikes them and loses his nerve. When he meets Kate for the first time, he hardly even looks at her.

Therefore, when Kate finds out that Marlow feels more comfortable with lower-class women, she cleverly pretended to be one in order to get to know Marlow better. 

"Stooping" means to come one step lower, to bend, or bow down. What she did was to come one step lower from the social class that she belongs to, thus potentially putting her pride and dignity in danger. However, Kate did not care; her main purpose was to get to know Marlow, and to make him feel at ease. This is why Kate is ultimately the best choice for Marlow; she is willing to stoop for him, even if it comes with the price of pretending to be something that she is not.

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She Stoops to Conquer

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