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

Start Free Trial

"Women And Music Should Never Be Dated"

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Context: Mr. Marlow, who, because he has always led the life of a student apart from refined society, is extremely bashful in the presence of a good woman but is full of boldness in the presence of one from the lower walks of life, comes down to the country to see Miss Hardcastle, with whom his father and Miss Hardcastle's are trying to arrange a marriage for him. Miss Hardcastle's loutish half-brother, Tony Lumpkin, a practical joker, meeting Mr. Marlow and his traveling companion, Mr. Hastings, at the local alehouse, sends them to the Hardcastle house, saying that it is an inn. Arriving at the house, the two young men act with the liberty permissible in an inn, their freedom of behavior much puzzling Mr. Hardcastle, who knows who they are, even if they do not know who he is. Mr. Marlow meets Miss Hardcastle while she is dressed in her best finery, but is so discomfited in her presence that, while carrying on a stilted and halting conversation, he never looks at her face. As a result of the conversation he decides that marriage with her would be insupportable and decides to return to London as soon as possible. He, however, catches a glimpse of her clad in a plain country dress and mistakes her for the barmaid of the establishment, a mistake that one of the maids confirms. Marlow meets Miss Hardcastle in her new guise and immediately is so struck by her appearance that he requests a kiss. He then tries to discover her age, but she tells him that people should never try to find out how old a woman or a piece of music is.

One may call in this house, I find, to very little purpose. Suppose I should call for a taste, just by the way of a trial, of the nectar of your lips; perhaps I might be disappointed in that too.
Nectar! nectar! That's a liquor there's no call for in these parts. French, I suppose. We sell no French wines here, sir.
Of true English growth, I assure you.
Then it's odd I should not know it. We brew all sorts of wines in this house, and I have lived here these eighteen years.
Eighteen years! Why, one would think, child, you kept the bar before you were born. How old are you?
O! sir, I must not tell my age. They say women and music should never be dated.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

"This Is Liberty Hall"