She Stoops to Conquer Study Guide
She Stoops to Conquer: Act and Scene Summaries
She Stoops to Conquer: Themes
She Stoops to Conquer: Characters
She Stoops to Conquer: Analysis
She Stoops to Conquer: Critical Essays
She Stoops to Conquer: Quotes
She Stoops to Conquer: Questions & Answers
She Stoops to Conquer: Introduction
She Stoops to Conquer: Biography of Oliver Goldsmith
Introduction to She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer is a play by Oliver Goldsmith, first performed in 1773. It was met with popular acclaim for its comedic plot and memorable characters. The play is a notable departure from the popular eighteenth-century trend of sentimental comedies, which often focused on the struggles of archetypal characters to overcome moral or personal hardships. Instead, She Stoops to Conquer was referred to by Goldsmith as a laughing comedy, designed to elicit merriment and amusement from audiences by mocking the flaws of its characters.
Goldsmith employs a number of common comedic elements in his play, including deception and the concealment of identity. The play’s heroine, Kate Hardcastle, plays the part of a barmaid in order to suss out the true nature of her suitor. This plot device serves two primary purposes: first, it allows Goldsmith to develop the comedic aspects of the play by building dramatic irony and allowing audiences to feel as though they are in on the joke; second, it creates room for social commentary, as one of the play’s primary themes revolves around class distinctions and the disparity between the expected manners of the upper classes and how people truly behave. It is this irreverent blend of comedy and social criticism that has allowed She Stoops to Conquer to remain relevant—and widely enjoyed—even centuries after its initial debut.
A Brief Biography of Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774) was an Irish writer who contributed to the English literary scene of the eighteenth century. He was raised in the town of Lissoy and was the son of a rector. Although Goldsmith showed great intelligence from a young age, he failed to channel his talents in a professional direction during his time at Trinity College, Dublin. After graduating, he studied some medicine and then moved to London, where he gave up medicine and took up work as an editor and writer for magazines. He connected with the literary circle known as “The Club,” and, encouraged by Samuel Johnson, increasingly turned his talents towards literary writing. Goldsmith produced an influential body of work in the remaining years of his life.
Goldsmith is notable for creating important works in several literary genres. He composed novels, such as The Vicar of Wakefield (1766); plays, such as She Stoops to Conquer (1773); and poetry, such as The Traveller (1764) and The Deserted Village (1770). His work challenged the prevailing literary trend of sentimentalism and documented the loss of traditional rural culture.