Students who enjoy reading Shakespeare might want to consider two of his plays which treat themes similar to those in Goldsmith's play, in particular love and the problems faced by young lovers whose marriage has been forbidden by parents. Critics see resemblances between Goldsmith's Kate and Rosalind, the heroine of Shakespeare's 1599 comedy As You Like It. Both plays feature smart and spirited women and both create comedy from forbidden loves, disguises, and mistaken identities.
Those preferring tragedy might prefer Shakespeare's 1595 Romeo and Juliet, in which parental interference with the lover's plans for marriage leads to suicide and death. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim successfully adapted Romeo and Juliet for the musical theatre in West Side Story.
Like Goldsmith's play, Frances Burney's 1778 epistolary novel Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance into the World also portrays the eighteenth century's Britain's marriage market. It recounts the heroine's introduction into London society and explores the ways love and marriage influence female identity.
In Mary Wollstonecraft's Mana, or, The Wrongs of Woman, late eighteenth-century England's marriage market leads a naive, sincere young women to destruction. Until the Married Women's Property Act of 1867, women who married lost control over their property under a legal convention known as "coverture.1' In this short, fragmentary, gothic novel, Maria's cruel husband has her imprisoned in a madhouse for her refusal to give him her money which she has saved for her daughter. Wollstonecraft's novel, written just 15 years after Goldsmith's play, offers a suitable contrast to She Stoops to Conquer for students interested in feminism and human rights.
While any of Jane Austen's novels would serve as fine foils to Goldsmith's play, two in particular might be best to read next: Emma (1815) and Sense and Sensibility (1811). Both deal with the problems of love and marriage faced by young ladies in the eighteenth century. Structurally akin to She Stoops to Conquer, Austen's novels also develop themes in part by juxtaposing pairs of characters. In tone, Austen's irony might be contrasted with Goldsmith's comedy.
Recalling the struggles of lovers Constance and Hastings, Wilkie Collins's 1868 novel The Moonstone also revolves around a young lady whose marriage stalls due to an Indian jewel. Different in style from Goldsmith's play, many critics see The Moonstone as one of the first detective novels, with an ending guaranteed to surprise.
Oscar Wilde's funny, accessible 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People closely resembles She Stoops to Conquer in situation, theme, and tone. Both plays feature two citified male friends who woo two countrified female friends and both rely on disguise and double identities. Love triumphs at the end of both plays, which end in marriages all around.