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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What are the features of anti-sentimental comedy?

Some of the features of an anti-sentimental comedy include wit, irony, farce, disguise, an exploration of human motivation, a reflection on marriage, and the intent to make the audience laugh.

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Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer has often been labeled as an anti-sentimental comedy. It is a somewhat satirical response to the sentimental comedy of the era that focuses on the moral triumph over hardship and often features an attempt to create a deep emotional response in the audience.

An anti-sentimental comedy, on the other hand, focuses on wit and irony. Such a play provides farcical and hilarious situations of disguise and mistaken identity. These works show that human emotions can get out of hand and need to be controlled, and many of their characters are controlled far more by motivations of pride or financial gain than by emotion.

Anti-sentimental comedies are designed to make the audience laugh even as they critique a wide range of upper-class pretensions. Many such plays, for instance, deal with the motives behind marriage, contrasting love with money and social position.

We can see, then, that She Stoops to Conquer is a prime example of an anti-sentimental comedy. The characters provide an excellent balance of wit and silliness as they plot and scheme and disguise themselves and play pranks on one another. Emotion is put in second place to practical considerations. Disguise and misrepresentation run rampant.

Goldsmith also explores the motives for marriage. Hastings and Constance, for instance, may love each other, but Constance doesn't love him enough to give up her jewels and go with him immediately. Tony, on the other hand, would rather marry the poor Bet than the wealthy Constance.

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