the light fantastic

vague ramblings re: early british lit

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

She Stoops to Conquer

It's hard to say that this play was a traditional comedy after having read it. It was very funny and the situations were imbued with irony, but the play seemed to progress into more chaos, rather than order like a Comedy ought to. All the characters are introduced with their 'set' characteristics in Act I, but each scene change brings a new twist to the plot. Examples: Tony is intially set up to be a weak, mama's boy...his education and the way Mr. Hardcastle views him is evident Tony is entirely useless. Yet he's the one who instigates the entire play (but tricking Marlow) and solves it in the end (by formally rejecting Constance).

Kate is also first portrayed as a doppleganger of her mother, that is fashionably silly and overall useless (as females ought to be). But as the play progresses, she makes clear and accurate judgements about Marlow and her conversations show her intelligence.

Marlow and Hastings, as city gentlemen, are expected to be smart and handsome men, but their introduction shows them gullible and impudent. To act so familiar with Mr. Hardcastle, even if they supposed he was the innkeeper could hardly be considered manners.

All the characters break the mold of the general stereotypes and the conclusions doesn't resolve this, so it can be argued that this play is actually flows from order to chaos, since each character and status slowly falls into disorder. The only redeeming thing is the promise of weddings that qualify it for a comedy, because other than the humor...this is clearly a tragic play.


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