She Stoops to Conquer

she stoops to conquer

Comic Devices in She stoops to conquer,... 

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"She Stoops to Conquer," is a masterpiece of dramatic irony, which is a device where the audience has information and knowledge that the characters do not. From the moment Tony plays the practical joke on Marlow and Hastings, the audience learns secrets that will grow more complicated and hence create confusion that leads to hilarious situations. The best example is perhaps the way Marlow and Hastings treat Hardcastle, because they think him a landlord. Because we understand the details of the confusions, we understand the jokes whereas the characters only grow more offended. However, the behavior wrought by the dramatic irony reveals much of Goldsmith's view on humanity and class. The same example listed above is funny, but also shows the cruelty that comes from a rich man's entitlement. Throughout the play, much of the class commentary derives from the behaviors people show when they don’t' realize they are being judged. Kate exploits this to try and find out what kind of person Marlow actually is.

In many ways, the characters in "She Stoops to Conquer" are comic archtypes. Hardcastle is the old curmudgeon who hates modern life, Mrs. Hardcastle a vain old lady, the young men are handsome heroes, Kate is the pretty young heroine, and Tony is the comic drunkard. Very quickly, Goldsmith explores the depth of class, money and human contradictions by putting those qualities in broader contexts. Hardcastle turns out to be not entirely incorrect about the impertinence of the young (which he discovers because of Tony's trick), but turns out to be forgiving. Mrs. Hardcastle is frankly never deepened, and stays who she is throughout. Hastings remains a valiant young man, but Marlow is obviously full of absurd contradictions very much connected to the very aristocratic virtue that seems to define him in the beginning. And Kate, of course, is perhaps the deepest and fullest character of all, not a simple heroine to be won by the young man.

One comic device used is rudenss (Marlowe), ill mannered behavior in certain characters, practical jokes, and awkwardness.