What are the Neo-classical and Romantic elements in Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer"?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Godsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer" (1773) is an 'anti-sentimental comedy.' Goldsmith reacted against the then popular sentimental comedy by combining elements of the Comedy of Manners {the neo-classical drama} and Shakespearean Romantic Comedy {the romantic age drama}.

Blank verse was the popular line during Shakespeare's time. The neo-classical dramatists never succeeded in writing poetic drama because by then prose had become the popular medium and neo-classical dramas were written in prose. However their prologues and  epilogues were in 'heroic couplets' the popular verse form of the day. 

The division of a neo-classical play into 5 acts in keeping with Aristiotle's dictum that a drama must have a five part structure was superimposed on the neo-classical editions  of Shakespeare's plays which were originally published without act divisions.

Other important similarities are:

  • The love for the rural countryside is a typical romantic characteristic and it is echoed in Mr.Hardcastle's remark in the opening scene, "I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home!"
  • The witty, bold and independent heroine Kate is based on the characters of Shakespeare's heroines like Portia and Viola.
  • Tony Lumpkin is often compared to Puck.
  • Mistaken identities which create so much of the fun and laughter in the play owe much to similar situations in many Shakespearean comedies.

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