In She Stoops to Conquer, what is the main conflict and the climax?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Often classified as a romantic comedy because of Miss Hardcastle's "stooping" in her attempts to entice Charles Marlow as well as Marlow's nervousness, She Stoops to Conquer is also in the category of a comedy of manners because there are the humorous attempts of the characters to preserve proper standards of behavior which is sharp contrasted by how they really act.

Certainly, then, by its definition this comedy of manners effects the main conflict: the characters' behavior is in conflict with the standards of their social class. Hardcastle's son Tony prefers a girl from the alehouse over Miss Neville. Because of this, he aids Miss Neville in her plans to marry Hastings against the wishes of his mother. And, the shy Marlow believing Kate Hardcastle is a barmaid, speaks with vulgarity to her because it is only in such a persona that he can he be comfortable.

The climax comes with the arrival of Sir Charles Marlow in Act V. For, the mistaken identities reach their highest emotional peak as Sir Charles talks with Hardcastle about the engagement of his son with Kate, but when young Marlow enters, he does not want to become engaged with Miss Hardcastle; further, he contradicts the opinion of Mr. Hardcastle that he and his daughter are fond of each other because he believes in Kate's deception that she is a poor relative and does not know who she truly is. Young Marlow tells Hardcastle,

Sure, sir, nothing has passed between us but the most profound respect on my side, and the most distant reserve on hers. You don’t think, sir, that my impudence has been passed upon all the rest of the family.

But, Hardcastle insists that his daughter herself has told him of Marlow's affection for her. Fortunately, although his pride is terribly wounded when he realizes Kate's deception, she teases him as does her father and the problems of mistaken identity are all resolved.

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