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She Stoops to Conquer - What Accounts for Its Enduring Popularity?

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She Stoops to Conquer - What Accounts for Its Enduring Popularity?

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  • October 1999
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She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy play written by Oliver Goldsmith. It has been loved since it was written. When it was first performed, some people did not approve of it as it attacked the normal sort of play style at the time, which was sentimental comedy. Personally I think the play is very whimsical and funny both on stage acted and just the words used.

Sentimental comedy involved characters to be very typical, for example, the heroine was shy and romantic, the hero was brave and bold, and romance and love was above everything else. In She Stoops to Conquer Miss Neville and Hastings are in love, and they planned to elope to France, yet their plans are foiled. While Hastings wants them to get married anyway, Miss Neville is sensible and does the exact opposite of a sentimental comedy heroine, and puts money and her father's wishes first, by saying:

"MISS NEVILLE: In a moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance."
Servants were not allowed to be centre stage, but in She Stoops to Conquer a whole scene is dedicated to the servants and their incapability of being servant-like.
In sentimental comedy plays, when something unhappy happened, the general idea was to be sad, yet Marlow in She stoops to Conquer attacks this idea by commenting:
"MARLOW: Pardon me, madam. I was always willing to be amused. The folly of most people is rather an object of mirth than uneasiness."
When Hastings finally declares his love for Miss Neville to her uncle, Mr Hardcastle, Mrs Hardcastle can't take such romantic talk:
"MRS HARDCASTLE: Pshaw, pshaw, this is all but the whining end of a modern novel," modern novels were of course written in sentimental style. She is complaining about this, even though this is one of the only cases of sentimental comedy creeping into the play. This new style of play was very different to the old style, so once people got used to it they...