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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What is the setting of She Stoops to Conquer?

Quick answer:

The setting of She Stoops to Conquer is the Hardcastle home in the English countryside.

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The majority of She Stoops to Conquer is set in the Hardcastle house, a manor located in the English countryside. From the dialogue, it is apparent that the Hardcastle home is not terribly lavish. Mr. Hardcastle tries to make his home seem more impressive before the city-dwelling Marlow and Hastings arrive. These details become vital in the plausibility of the scenario, since Marlow and Hastings are tricked into thinking the Hardcastle home is actually an inn.

The countryside aspect of the setting is also important because of the contrast it creates with city-bred characters like Marlow and rural-raised characters like Tony Lumpkin. Being from the city, it is assumed that Marlow would be more sophisticated and intelligent than the country-dwelling gentry, and yet it is Tony's cleverness that sets off the play's events.

The time period also contributes to the setting. She Stoops to Conquer is set in eighteenth-century England. Class divisions were incredibly important during this time, determining who one could marry, for instance. When Marlow treats Kate differently when he believes her to be a barmaid, this is a reflection of eighteenth-century mores regarding class. With the exception of Mr. Hardcastle and Kate, the upper-class characters tend to treat the lower-class characters rudely, since they were not considered worthy of equal consideration during this period.

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