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Thematic Issues in Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer

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Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy that was written in 1773 but gained massive recognition in the 18th century. It combines elements of the genre ‘comedy of manners’ in the neo-classical drama which uses satire to expose us to the discord between the countryside and the city, poor and rich, that lived in that century.

Firstly, one of the major themes that run throughout the play is the effect of child-rearing and the role it plays on the child’s life. This is exemplified in the novel where Tony Lumpkin is seen as a rebellion character. His attitude is a result of how he was brought up by his mother, Mrs. Hardcastle. She denies him an education and he is not able to do anything meaningful in the society as expected of a fellow of his class. Hence, he grows up and has no respect for his mother and rebels against her at the slightest opportunity. Kate and Mr. Hardcastle on the other hand have a healthy parent-child relationship. Kate has so much respect for his father and even though they do not agree on certain issues such as fashion, they both comprise, and an agreement is reached on how she should dress. Kate can make responsible choices even when it came to choosing a life partner (young Marlow). In our society today, the issue of how children are brought up is very relevant. The type of training parents give their children goes a long way to affect the child’s life even when they grow up. Irresponsible parenting leads to the rearing of irresponsible children.

Secondly, another thematic issue in the play is that people relate to one another based on class differences. The play examines how people of the higher class relate to people of the lower class. For instance, in the novel, Marlow and Hastings made fun of Mr. Hardcastle and disrespected him. In act I Marlow says that ‘I have never met such impudence in my whole life’. They disrespected him because they mistook him as an innkeeper. Marlow’s relationship with Kate depicts this theme. He speaks to Kate confidently when she is dressed as a barmaid and is nervous around her when she dresses as someone of the high class. This indicates how people of the high class relate to those of the lower class, they have little respect for them. The issue of class differences these days has become less prevalent as they were in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though there is some form of class difference in society it is gradually fading away.

Lastly, disguise and deceit can be profitable. This is exemplified in the play when Miss Hardcastle discovers that young Marlow is comfortable around women of the lower class and is nervous around women of the higher class, she continues to disguise herself to deceive Marlow that she is a barmaid to win his love. In act I  Kate says that ‘If he refuses to break my heart at his indifference, I will break my glass for his flattery’. She realizes that the only way she can win his love is to disguise herself as a barmaid. At the end of the play, she wins his love. In our society today, people disguise themselves to get what they want, some rich people disguise themselves to find their life partners.

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Thematic Issues In Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from
“Thematic Issues In Goldsmith’s She Stoops To Conquer.” GradesFixer, 25 Oct. 2021,
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