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 Goldsmith's view on Marlow and Kate's marriage in She Stoops to Conquer?

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Goldsmith uses the relationship between Marlow and Kate as his main comic device in this play which amuses just as much now as it did when it was first performed. However, it is important to remember that behind comedies lie very important themes and messages, and this is just as true for this comedy as it is for any other. Goldsmith wrote this play in part to comment on the disparity between appearances and reality, and deception and truth. So many of the characters deliberately present themselves as being not what they are, and it is highly ironic that Kate has to become what she is not in order to find out who Marlow, her future husband really is. But the process of actually discovering the truth about Marlow seems to indicate that they are well-suited for marriage, as Kate has seen Marlow both at his best, when he was concerned about social propriety, and at his worst, when he tried to accost her in her disguise as a servingwoman. This gives her a real and genuine understanding of his character that can only benefit them in terms of a future marriage. Perhaps Goldsmith's view on their marriage can be discerned from the final words of her father, Mr. Hastings, in the play as he speaks to his daughter:

Come, madam, you are driven to the very last scene of all your contrivances. I know you like him, I'm sure he loves you, and you must and shall have him.

This could be considered Goldsmith's blessing on the impending marriage between Kate and Marlow as Kate has won for herself a husband who genuinely loves her and is willing to sacrifice his name and station in order to have her. By the end of the play, the forces of reality are shown to triumph, and this indicates Goldsmith's approval of their relationship.

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What is the view of Goldsmith concerning the marrigae between Marlow and Kate in She Stoops to Conquer? Was the marriage between Marlow and Kate a successful marriage or not?

Goldsmith gives every indication that their marriage will be successful, because Kate has chosen to disguise herself to find out who the real Marlow is before marrying him, and therefore she knows his true character, and has decided that he is a man that she can spend the rest of her life with. In the same way, it is strongly indicated that Marlow becomes acquainted with Kate through her disguise and realises that there is more to her than just beauty, and finds that he is truly in love. This leads to him being willing to even risk his father's displeasure by proposing to Kate, whom he thinks is still a servingmaid:

By all that's good, I can have no happiness but what's in your power to grant me. Nor shall I ever feel repentance, but in not having seen your merits before. I will stay, even contrary to your wishes; and though you should persist to shun me, I will make my respectful assidities atone for the levity of my past conduct.

These are serious words indeed, and as Marlow progresses to kneel and propose to Kate, it is clear that they are meant to be taken seriously. Such behaviour is included by Goldsmith to definitely show that this happy ending at the end of the play is a sincere and genuine one. Kate is a character who at the very beginning of the play likes the sound of her future husband except for his supposed timidity and bashfulness. What she does through her disguise is to effectively "cure" him of this and to bring him out of his shell, making him willing to testify his love for her even before he knows her true identity. Having been willing to forsake everything in order to marry Kate, this indicates that their marriage will be successful when he actually finds out who she really is.

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