Places Discussed

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Last Updated on May 14, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 233

Hardcastle Mansion

Hardcastle Mansion. This village dwelling is a substantially built house, which nevertheless must have been timbered and devoid of the familiar medieval stone turrets and towers that marked the castles of the nobility and the upper class. The mansion can be easily mistaken for a country inn. This mistaken identity of place represents the major theme of the play. The Englishman, especially the male, is a modern person for whom identity is always a question; a satisfactory resolution of identity depends on a wise marriage of the old and the new, in which both the man and the woman are strong characters. The complex nature of the house in the play symbolizes this theme.

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Three Pigeons Inn

Three Pigeons Inn. Tavern whose taproom is the location where the plot of mistaken identity is planned by Tony Lumpkin, who is even more innovative in his notions of identity than the marrying couple of the play. Drinking and the carefree life of the tavern may represent future social change for Goldsmith, or at least his mockery of it in the play.

Feather-bed Lane

Feather-bed Lane. Bumpy road on which the wild roundabout ride in the final act of the play begins only to end in the pond. The comic chase represents again how revolutionary Goldsmith is with his suggestions of a changing British society, in which town and country values are tossed together.

Literary Style

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Age of Sensibility

Many works written between 1750 and 1798 emphasized emotion and pathos, instead of drama and humor. The Sentimental comedy, called a comedy not because of its humor but because it had a happy ending, ruled the stage. She Stoops to Conquer reacts against this tradition, for Goldsmith's comedy actually evokes laughter. The prologue by Garrick and the epilogue by Goldsmith clearly situate the play as a challenge to sensibility, and positive audience response initiated a new age in stage comedy.

Comedy of Manners

While She Stoops to Conquer contains elements of farce, its comedy also stems from poking fun at the manners and conventions of aristocratic, sophisticated society.


In the concluding statement of She Stoops to Conquer, Goldsmith summarizes the plot and hopes that the comedy has conquered his audience as Kate has conquered Marlow's heart.


Many critics have described She Stoops to Conquer, a comedy characterized by broad humor and outlandish incidents, as a farce.


Goldsmith uses foreshadowing to create expectations and explain subsequent developments. For example, Mrs. Hardcastle in act one describes their house as "an old rumbling mansion, that looks for all the world like an inn." This helps the audience understand what gave Tony the idea for his practical joke and explains how the travelers' could mistake the Hardcastle's house for an inn.

Later, when Marlow indicates his anxiety speaking with ladies, but comfort flirting with wenches, this

foreshadows his comical interludes with Kate. Kate's discussion with Mr. Hardcastle about desiring an outgoing husband leads the audience to anticipate her disappointment with the formal Marlow. Her statement that Marlow's shyness during their first meeting prevented him from even looking at her face makes us expect some comical treatment of identity and gives Kate's disguise as a barmaid credibility.


When Mrs. Hardcastle and Hastings discuss London's high society, she intends the conversation to show her sophistication and knowledge of city Me. Instead, the conversation has exactly the opposite effect. Her confusion between fashionable and unfashionable neighborhoods shows her ignorance of high society, making her comments ironic.

Poetic Justice

Throughout the play, Mrs. Hardcastle tries maintain control over Constance's jewels. It is poetic justice that when Mrs. Hardcastle has hidden the jewels from Constance, claiming they've been stolen, they have in fact been stolen by Tony.


David Garrick, the most famous actor and theatre producer of his time, wrote the introductory section of She Stoops to Conquer. Garrick claims that the "Comic muse, long sick, is now a-dying." He hopes that Goldsmith's play, with its humor, will challenge the traditional sentimental comedy and thus revive the muse.

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Historical and Social Context