In She Stoops to Conquer, what does Oliver Goldsmith say about the importance of money in deciding whom and when to marry in the case of Constance and Hastings?
If Constance marries Hastings without Hardcastle's permission, she loses her inheritance of jewels.
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Initially when Constance and Hastings first meet in the play, Hastings states that he is not interested in Constance's jewels and will marry her without them. However, interestingly it is Constance herself who refuses to elope without at least managing to take her jewels. Note what she says to Hastings to explain why she will not marry him prematurely:
I have often told you, that though ready to obey you, I yet should leave my little fortune behind with reluctance. The greatest part of it was left me by my uncle, the India Director, and chiefly consists in jewels.... The instant they are put into my possession you shall find me ready to make them and myself yours.
This comment from Constance is used to indicate the reality of marriage, which, in Goldsmith's day, was something that was rarely ever a question of love alone. The audience is made very aware that the parents are only able to marry Constance off because of these jewels, and Constance in this quote is well aware that a young couple cannot live on love alone, and refuses to elope with Hastings until she has them. In a sense, this indicates the way in which women were bought and sold on the marriage market by the strength of their wealth and stature. Marriage was not about love primarily, but about what women could offer to the man who would marry them.
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