Arizona State University - W. P. Carey School of Business

How the subplot affects the main plot in the drama "She Stoops to Conquer"

how we get satisfied by the sub plot when we have disappointment on the main plot of the play.

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The main sub-plot is that of the secret romance between Constance and Hastings. Constance needs her jewels, an inheritance, that are guarded by Tony's mother, Mrs. Hardcastle; the latter wants Constance to marry her son to keep the jewels in the family. Tony despises the thought of marrying Constance—he prefers a barmaid at the alehouse—and so agrees to steal the jewels from his mother's safe keeping for Miss Neville, so she will then flee to France with Hastings.


Written by Oliver Goldsmith, the play named “She stoops to conquer” is considered as a sentimental comedy. Through this play Goldsmith mocks at the society of Eighteenth century in a very mild way. Here, we find two plots which have a great influence on each other and also on the entire drama.

Actually in the main plot, the major characters show double face in their attitude. We find ‘Marlow’, the hero of play, as a very over confident, arrogant upper class boy who doesn’t feel simplest interest to show modesty to common people like Tony or Mr. Hardcastle. And another unknown Marlow we find with Kate, the heroin of the main plot. Marlow is abnormally bashful to continue a formal communication. So, as audience we are confused to judge Marlow as a hero.

Kate is also doubled faced. She is showing her disappointment and ridiculous attitude towards Marlow. But secretly she is planning to woo him. Thus, we can’t have a crystal idea from her conversation with her father that she would be in true love with Marlow. When Marlow finds Kate as an ordinary bar-maid, he at a very first site falls in love with her and forces to kiss her. His seductive attitude is very striking and shocking, but his heroism is shown in his true love for the lady. At the end we find that Marlow is ready to break the tie of his upper class bond. His given words to the bar-maid are true and heroic.

On the contrary, we find the hero of the sub plot, George Hasting, as a brave, decisive and a man of one word. He is devoted towards his love Miss Neville. But her (N) aunt wants to give her marry with his loafer son Tony. So, Hasting is made his accompany with Marlow not only to support him (M), but also to elope with her love. Throughout the play we find Hasting very much heroic and face his problems bravely. He has also no interest with the jewelry of Neville rather he just wants her love and does a lot to establish his love. And at the end of the novel we see that he is actually able to make the entire situation favorable for him and also makes Neville of his own.

Eventually, the hero of the main plot can’t perform as a perfect hero rather the hero of the sub plot is more heroic then him. Marlow does nothing to establish his love; moreover, the heroin seems as heroic and takes steps for the settlement of their relationship. On the other hand, we find both Hasting and Neville as to be devoted to each other and do plan to elope. So, the lacking of the main plot is balanced by the sub plot. Thus the sub plot affects the main plot.

Though the play is considered as a sentimental comedy, but it has some lacking of feature of a perfect sentimental comedy. Through this play, Goldsmith tries to break down the tie of upper class bond with his wit and ironical dialogues.


critical appreciation from DR. Raghukul on "she stoops to conquer"