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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Who does Tony like in She Stoops to Conquer?

Tony likes working-class woman Bet Bouncer and wants to marry her, contrary to the wishes of his mother, who wants him to marry his cousin Constance.

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In Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, Tony Lumpkin is the son of Mrs. Hardcastle by her first marriage. Tony is quite a mischievous fellow, and he has few, if any, social pretensions. He hangs around with the working-class fellows at the local pub. He loves playing pranks. And to his mother's horror, Tony wants to marry the rustic Bet Bouncer.

Mrs. Hardcastle has her heart set on Tony marrying his cousin and her ward, Constance. Constance is quite wealthy, and Mrs. Hardcastle very much wants to keep that fortune within the family. Tony is not at all interested in this plan.

Tony, however, seems to like his cousin well enough as a general rule, and he agrees to help her elope with her suitor, Hastings. This, after all, will free him to marry Bet. He swipes Constance's jewels from Mrs. Hardcastle so as to overcome that obstacle. He also flirts with Constance to throw his mother off track.

Tony, though, does make one mistake. When he receives a letter from Hastings, he gives it to his mother to read. Tony is illiterate, having never gone to school because his mother always thought he was sickly. The letter is all about the elopement plot between Hasting and Constance, so now the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

In the end, things work out in Tony's favor. He discovers that he has, in fact, already turned twenty-one (his mother has been hiding his age) and that he is free to marry whomever he pleases. He promptly declares that he will not marry Constance, thus paving the way for her to marry Hastings.

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