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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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 149

The prologue consists of a single monologue, delivered by an actor separate from the main cast. He is dressed in black clothing and holds a handkerchief to his eyes. He begins by saying that he is in mourning because the “Comic muse,” who has long been indisposed, is now dying. Her death will affect him greatly, he says, as he is an actor who makes his living performing in comic plays. He then proceeds to say that there is one last hope in the tragic situation: that of the self-styled doctor (Oliver Goldsmith) who has prepared five draughts (the play itself, composed of five acts) to cure the muse and appease the audience. Finally, the actor ends with saying that if the cure is effective, then the doctor will be given his “degree.” If it isn’t, however, he will “receive no fee” and be denounced as a fraud.

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Act 1