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The female characters of She Stoops to Conquer are very ambitious, they would do anything to achieve whatever they want. Even if their goal would cost them manipulating the men in their lives. Henceforth, this paper shall discuss the female manipulation in the play.
Kate Hardcastle is a smart, sensible, ambitious and a beautiful young woman. She knows how to use these merits to her own benefits. Thus, she knows how to manipulate her father, and Marlow, the son of her father’s dear friend, who wants to marry her.
She knows how to manipulate her father, and get along well with him. She does what he wants, and obeys him all the time. She dresses as he pleases in the evening while dresses as she pleases in the morning “You know our agreement sir. You allow me the morning to receive and pay visits and to dress in my own manner; and in the evening, I put on my house wife’s dress to please you.”
She manages to secure a deal with him which allows her to set expectations to her future husband and if he met her expectations, she can eventually marry him. Such things were impossible back then, so for her to be able to do that shows how strong her character is.
Kate’s father tells her about Marlow and that he wishes to marry her. At first she is hesitant and thinks she will dislike him, she says “it is a thousand to one I shan’t like him.” After meeting him, she finds out that he is not actually bad but rather very shy to the point that he can not even make an eye contact with her.
“Ha! ha! ha! Was there ever such a sober, sentimental interview? I’m certain he scarce looked in my face the whole time.” After talking to him for a while, she discovers that Marlow has a good personality that is hidden behind his shyness she says “He has a good sense, but then so buried in his fear.”
When he mistakes her for a barmaid and she discovers that he is more comfortable around lower-class women than high-class women, she does not feel threaten at all. She uses his weakness to her advantage and starts dressing as a barmaid in order to manipulate Marlow to make him open up to her, and teach him to be confident “If I could teach him a little confidence, it would be doing somebody that I know of a piece of service.” This is the result of having a strong and intelligent character like Kate.
She manages to manipulate him into believing that she is a servant. This enables him to talk freely with her and show his true personality. Kate believes that this will allow her to discover his true personality, see whether he would make a suitable husband or not and secure his interest. As she goes on manipulating him, she discovers more things about his personality that makes him more humane. She says to her father “But if I shortly convince you of his modesty, that he has only the faults that will pass off with time, and the virtues that will improve with age, I hope you’ll forgive him.”
Kate continues manipulating Marlow even when he discovers that he is in Mr. Hardcastle’s house and not an inn. When he discovers that she is playing him, she does not back down and does not reveal herself instead, she says that she is a “relation of the family.” She believes it is too soon to stop deceiving him. “I believe he to find out his mistake. But it’s too soon quite to undeceive him.” This situation reveals more about Marlow’s character and how gentle he is. This increases Kate’s admiration for Marlow and she becomes convinced that he would make a suitable husband. “I never knew half his merit till now. He shall not go.”
When the truth is revealed and Marlow discovers that Kate is neither a barmaid nor a family relation but rather Mr. Hardcastle’s daughter, Kate does not feel ashamed nor guilty. She manages to turn the table against him. She faces the situation with humor and calls out how he has certain personality with high-class women and a whole different personality with low-class women. She says “Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you were pleased to take me for; she that you addressed as the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward, agreeable rattle of the ladies club.” With her wit and intelligence she manages to embarrass Marlow and makes the situation about his two different personality instead of her manipulation. Kate is the most interesting character created by Goldsmith. She is a very strong, smart, and witty character, her steady and magnetic traits complete Marlow’s lack of stability.
The next manipulative female character this paper shall discuss is Miss Neville. Miss Neville is Kate’s cousin, she is a practical, wise woman whose only fortune is a set of jewels in the care of her aunt, Mrs. Hardcastle. Her aunt wants to marry her off to her son Tony to keep Neville’s jewels in the family but Miss Neville wants to marry Hastings. Although she does not want to give her fortune up, she starts her manipulation by offering her fortune to her aunt in order to let her marry Hastings. When her aunt refuses, she and Tony decide to take the jewels so Miss Neville and Hastings can elope together, and pretend that someone stole them. When Mrs. Hardcastle finds the jewels, they convince her that a servant misplaced them. Mrs. Hardcastle returns to trying to get Tony and miss Neville to marry each other, unaware that miss Neville and Hastings are planning to abscond. At the end Mr. Hardcastle reveals that Tony is of age which allows him to refuse his mother’s wishes. This allows Miss Neville to freely marry Hastings and get her jewels. Miss Neville’s character lacks the boldness that is found in Kate’s character, but she stands by what she wants just like her. She is neither manipulative nor strong like Kate, but when she is put in a situation that needs manipulation in order to get her what she wants, she does not hesitate.
Kate and Miss Neville’s manipulation have a positive effect on those around them. Kate’s manipulation reveals Marlow’s true personality, helps them understand each other better and makes them fall in love. However, Miss Neville’s manipulation fails to get her what she wants but when Tony’s true age is revealed, she eventually gets it. Both Kate and Miss Neville get their happy ending at the end. Kate is betrothed to Marlow and Miss Neville is betrothed to Hastings and receives her jewels. Both women stooped until they conquered.
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