She Stoops to Conquer

by

Oliver Goldsmith

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Charles Marlow Character Analysis

An aristocratic, well-educated, and handsome young man, Marlow has spent little time in polite society, instead spending much of his upbringing at school and in international travel. As a result, he lacks self-confidence in social settings and freezes up around women of his own class, who make him incredibly nervous. He often opts instead for seducing lower-class women, with whom he finds it easier to converse, as they do not intimidate him. Marlow arrives at Hardcastle’s home with his best friend, Hastings, having agreed to meet Kate Hardcastle and assess the prospect of marriage. However, he arrives at the Hardcastle’s home thinking that it is an inn, having been misdirected by Tony, and the process of untangling the complex mess of misunderstandings that ensues makes up the bulk of the play’s plot. Marlow falls in love with Kate over several meetings during which he feels comfortable around her because he thinks her to be of lower class, and by the end of the play they are engaged to marry. In this way, Marlow finds love with a woman of his own class despite his crippling shyness, thereby proving Tony’s initial, playful deception of Marlow to have been a fateful and fortunate twist.

Charles Marlow Quotes in She Stoops to Conquer

The She Stoops to Conquer quotes below are all either spoken by Charles Marlow or refer to Charles Marlow. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mistakes and Deceptions Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of She Stoops to Conquer published in 1991.
Act 1 Quotes

LANDLORD. There be two gentlemen in a post-chaise at the door. They have lost their way upo' the forest; and they are talking something about Mr. Hardcastle.

TONY. As sure as can be, one of them must be the gentleman that's coming down to court my sister. Do they seem to be Londoners?

LANDLORD. I believe they may. They look woundily like Frenchmen.

TONY. Then desire them to step this way, and I'll set them right in a twinkling. (Exit Landlord.) Gentlemen, as they mayn't be good enough company for you, step down for a moment, and I'll be with you in the squeezing of a lemon. [Exeunt MOB.]

Related Characters: Tony Lumpkin, Esquire (speaker), Landlord (speaker), Charles Marlow, Hardcastle
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 7-8
Explanation and Analysis:

TONY. No offence; but question for question is all fair, you know. Pray, gentlemen, is not this same Hardcastle a cross-grained, old-fashioned, whimsical fellow, with an ugly face, a daughter, and a pretty son?

HASTINGS. We have not seen the gentleman; but he has the family you mention.

TONY. The daughter, a tall, trapesing, trolloping, talkative maypole; the son, a pretty, well-bred, agreeable youth, that everybody is fond of.

MARLOW. Our information differs in this. The daughter is said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother's apron-string.

TONY. He-he-hem!—Then, gentlemen, all I have to tell you is, that you won't reach Mr. Hardcastle's house this night, I believe.

HASTINGS. Unfortunate!

TONY. It's a damn'd long, dark, boggy, dirty, dangerous way. Stingo, tell the gentlemen the way to Mr. Hardcastle's! (Winking upon the Landlord.) Mr. Hardcastle's, of Quagmire Marsh, you understand me.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), George Hastings (speaker), Tony Lumpkin, Esquire (speaker), Kate Hardcastle, Hardcastle
Page Number: 8-9
Explanation and Analysis:

HASTINGS. You have lived very much among them. In truth, I have been often surprised, that you who have seen so much of the world, with your natural good sense, and your many opportunities, could never yet acquire a requisite share of assurance.

MARLOW. The Englishman's malady. But tell me, George, where could I have learned that assurance you talk of? My life has been chiefly spent in a college or an inn, in seclusion from that lovely part of the creation that chiefly teach men confidence. I don't know that I was ever familiarly acquainted with a single modest woman—except my mother—But among females of another class, you know—

HASTINGS. Ay, among them you are impudent enough of all conscience.

MARLOW. They are of us, you know.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), George Hastings (speaker)
Related Symbols: Inns
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

HASTINGS. But in the company of women of reputation I never saw such an idiot, such a trembler; you look for all the world as if you wanted an opportunity of stealing out of the room.

MARLOW. Why, man, that's because I do want to steal out of the room. Faith, I have often formed a resolution to break the ice, and rattle away at any rate. But I don't know how, a single glance from a pair of fine eyes has totally overset my resolution. An impudent fellow may counterfeit modesty; but I'll be hanged if a modest man can ever counterfeit impudence.

HASTINGS. If you could but say half the fine things to them that I have heard you lavish upon the bar-maid of an inn, or even a college bed-maker—

MARLOW. Why, George, I can't say fine things to them; they freeze, they petrify me. They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but, to me, a modest woman, drest out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), George Hastings (speaker)
Related Symbols: Inns
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLOW. Yet, George, if we open the campaign too fiercely at first, we may want ammunition before it is over. I think to reserve the embroidery to secure a retreat.

HARDCASTLE. Your talking of a retreat, Mr. Marlow, puts me in mind of the Duke of Marlborough, when we went to besiege Denain. He first summoned the garrison——

MARLOW. Don't you think the ventre d'or waistcoat will do with the plain brown?

HARDCASTLE. He first summoned the garrison, which might consist of about five thousand men——

HASTINGS. I think not: brown and yellow mix but very poorly.

HARDCASTLE. I say, gentlemen, as I was telling you, be summoned the garrison, which might consist of about five thousand men——

MARLOW. The girls like finery.

HARDCASTLE. Which might consist of about five thousand men, well appointed with stores, ammunition, and other implements of war. Now, says the Duke of Marlborough to George Brooks, that stood next to him—you must have heard of George Brooks—I'll pawn my dukedom, says he, but I take that garrison without spilling a drop of blood. So——

MARLOW. What, my good friend, if you gave us a glass of punch in the mean time; it would help us to carry on the siege with vigour.

HARDCASTLE. Punch, sir! (Aside.) This is the most unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), George Hastings (speaker), Hardcastle (speaker), Kate Hardcastle, Constance Neville
Related Symbols: Inns
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLOW. Perhaps so, madam. But I love to converse only with the more grave and sensible part of the sex. But I'm afraid I grow tiresome.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Not at all, sir; there is nothing I like so much as grave conversation myself; I could hear it for ever. Indeed, I have often been surprised how a man of sentiment could ever admire those light airy pleasures, where nothing reaches the heart.

MARLOW. It's——a disease——of the mind, madam. In the variety of tastes there must be some who, wanting a relish——for——um—a—um.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I understand you, sir. There must be some, who, wanting a relish for refined pleasures, pretend to despise what they are incapable of tasting.

MARLOW. My meaning, madam, but infinitely better expressed.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle (speaker), George Hastings (speaker)
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

HARDCASTLE. If he be what he has shown himself, I'm determined he shall never have my consent.

MISS HARDCASTLE. And if he be the sullen thing I take him, he shall never have mine.

HARDCASTLE. In one thing then we are agreed—to reject him.

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes: but upon conditions. For if you should find him less impudent, and I more presuming—if you find him more respectful, and I more importunate—I don't know—the fellow is well enough for a man—Certainly, we don't meet many such at a horse-race in the country.

HARDCASTLE. If we should find him so——But that's impossible. The first appearance has done my business. I'm seldom deceived in that.

MISS HARDCASTLE. And yet there may be many good qualities under that first appearance.

HARDCASTLE. Ay, when a girl finds a fellow's outside to her taste, she then sets about guessing the rest of his furniture. With her, a smooth face stands for good sense, and a genteel figure for every virtue.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, a conversation begun with a compliment to my good sense, won't end with a sneer at my understanding?

HARDCASTLE. Pardon me, Kate. But if young Mr. Brazen can find the art of reconciling contradictions, he may please us both, perhaps.

Related Characters: Kate Hardcastle (speaker), Hardcastle (speaker), Charles Marlow
Page Number: 28-29
Explanation and Analysis:

MISS HARDCASTLE. Did he? Then as I live, I'm resolved to keep up the delusion. Tell me, Pimple, how do you like my present dress? Don't you think I look something like Cherry in the Beaux Stratagem?

MAID. It's the dress, madam, that every lady wears in the country, but when she visits or receives company.

MISS HARDCASTLE. And are you sure he does not remember my face or person?

MAID. Certain of it.

MISS HARDCASTLE. I vow, I thought so; for, though we spoke for some time together, yet his fears were such, that he never once looked up during the interview. Indeed, if he had, my bonnet would have kept him from seeing me.

MAID. But what do you hope from keeping him in his mistake?

MISS HARDCASTLE. In the first place I shall be seen, and that is no small advantage to a girl who brings her face to market. Then I shall perhaps make an acquaintance, and that's no small victory gained over one who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex. But my chief aim is, to take my gentleman off his guard, and, like an invisible champion of romance, examine the giant's force before I offer to combat.

Related Characters: Kate Hardcastle (speaker), Pimple (speaker), Charles Marlow
Related Symbols: Clothing, Inns
Page Number: 32-33
Explanation and Analysis:

HARDCASTLE. I tell you, sir, I'm serious! and now that my passions are roused, I say this house is mine, sir; this house is mine, and I command you to leave it directly.

MARLOW. Ha! ha! ha! A puddle in a storm. I shan't stir a step, I assure you. (In a serious tone.) This your house, fellow! It's my house. This is my house. Mine, while I choose to stay. What right have you to bid me leave this house, sir? I never met with such impudence, curse me; never in my whole life before.

HARDCASTLE. Nor I, confound me if ever I did. To come to my house, to call for what he likes, to turn me out of my own chair, to insult the family, to order his servants to get drunk, and then to tell me, This house is mine, sir. By all that's impudent, it makes me laugh. Ha! ha! ha! Pray, sir (bantering), as you take the house, what think you of taking the rest of the furniture? There's a pair of silver candlesticks, and there's a fire-screen, and here's a pair of brazen-nosed bellows; perhaps you may take a fancy to them?

MARLOW. Bring me your bill, sir; bring me your bill, and let's make no more words about it.

HARDCASTLE. There are a set of prints, too. What think you of the Rake's Progress, for your own apartment?

[Exit.]

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle (speaker)
Related Symbols: Inns
Page Number: 40-41
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLOW. So then, all's out, and I have been damnably imposed on. O, confound my stupid head, I shall be laughed at over the whole town. I shall be stuck up in caricatura in all the print-shops. The Dullissimo Macaroni. To mistake this house of all others for an inn, and my father's old friend for an innkeeper! What a swaggering puppy must he take me for! What a silly puppy do I find myself! There again, may I be hanged, my dear, but I mistook you for the bar-maid!

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle, Hardcastle , Sir Charles
Related Symbols: Inns
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

MISS HARDCASTLE. I hope, sir, I have done nothing to disoblige you. I'm sure I should be sorry to affront any gentleman who has been so polite, and said so many civil things to me. I'm sure I should be sorry (pretending to cry) if he left the family upon my account. I'm sure I should be sorry if people said anything amiss, since I have no fortune but my character.

MARLOW. (Aside.) By Heaven! she weeps. This is the first mark of tenderness I ever had from a modest woman, and it touches me. (To her.) Excuse me, my lovely girl; you are the only part of the family I leave with reluctance. But to be plain with you, the difference of our birth, fortune, and education, makes an honourable connexion impossible; and I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that trusted in my honour, of bringing ruin upon one whose only fault was being too lovely.

MISS HARDCASTLE. (Aside). Generous man! I now begin to admire him.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle (speaker)
Page Number: 42-43
Explanation and Analysis:

MISS HARDCASTLE. Then go, sir: I'll urge nothing more to detain you. Though my family be as good as hers you came down to visit, and my education, I hope, not inferior, what are these advantages without equal affluence? I must remain contented with the slight approbation of imputed merit; I must have only the mockery of your addresses, while all your serious aims are fixed on fortune.

Enter HARDCASTLE and SIR CHARLES from behind.

SIR CHARLES. Here, behind this screen.

HARDCASTLE. Ay, ay; make no noise. I'll engage my Kate covers him with confusion at last.

MARLOW. By heavens, madam, fortune was ever my smallest consideration. Your beauty at first caught my eye; for who could see that without emotion? But every moment that I converse with you, steals in some new grace, heightens the picture, and gives it stronger expression. What at first seemed rustic plainness, now appears refined simplicity. What seemed forward assurance, now strikes me as the result of courageous innocence, and conscious virtue.

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

MISS HARDCASTLE. Yes, sir, that very identical tall squinting lady you were pleased to take me for. (Curtseying.) She that you addressed as the mild, modest, sentimental man of gravity, and the bold, forward, agreeable Rattle of the Ladies' Club. Ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW. Zounds! there's no bearing this; it's worse than death!

MISS HARDCASTLE. In which of your characters, sir, will you give us leave to address you? As the faltering gentleman, with looks on the ground, that speaks just to be heard, and hates hypocrisy; or the loud confident creature, that keeps it up with Mrs. Mantrap, and old Miss Biddy Buckskin, till three in the morning? Ha! ha! ha!

MARLOW. O, curse on my noisy head. I never attempted to be impudent yet, that I was not taken down. I must be gone.

HARDCASTLE. By the hand of my body, but you shall not. I see it was all a mistake, and I am rejoiced to find it. You shall not, sir, I tell you. I know she'll forgive you. Won't you forgive him, Kate? We'll all forgive you. Take courage, man. (They retire, she tormenting him, to the back scene.)

Related Characters: Charles Marlow (speaker), Kate Hardcastle (speaker), Hardcastle (speaker)
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
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Charles Marlow Character Timeline in She Stoops to Conquer

The timeline below shows where the character Charles Marlow appears in She Stoops to Conquer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Class and Geography Theme Icon
Courtship and Love Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
...will never force her to marry anyone, but that the man coming to visit, Mr. Marlow (the son of Hardcastle’s best friend Sir Charles Marlow) is intelligent, generous, young, brave, and... (full context)
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Kate tells her father that she will accept Marlow as a husband if he has all the other qualities her father described. Hardcastle reminds... (full context)
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Alone, Kate ruminates aloud about Marlow, wondering whether she will like him and whether it is possible to cure a man... (full context)
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...Constance asks why Kate is so concerned about how she looks, and Kate explains that Marlow is coming to meet her. Constance tells Kate that she knows Marlow, as he is... (full context)
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...alehouse. They are lost and looking for Hardcastle’s house. Tony, realizing that this must be Marlow, asks his friends to leave him for a moment because the travelers will “not be... (full context)
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Marlow and Hastings enter the room with the landlord. Marlow complains about the difficult journey. Hastings... (full context)
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Tony intercedes in Marlow’s and Hastings’s conversation, asking if they know where they are. When they tell him they... (full context)
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Tony pretends to think for a moment, then tells Marlow and Hastings that they are only a mile away from one of the best inns... (full context)
Act 2
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A servant shows Marlow and Hardcastle into the room. They look around them approvingly, but remark sadly that fine... (full context)
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Hastings says that Marlow has spent so much time travelling that it is surprising he lacks confidence. Marlow says... (full context)
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Hastings ask Marlow how he plans to court and marry a woman if he cannot bring himself to... (full context)
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Marlow says that his other motive in visiting the Hardcastles was to facilitate Hastings’s courtship of... (full context)
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...he is a generous and welcoming host. Ignoring Hardcastle, whom he believes is the innkeeper, Marlow talks to Hastings about what they ought to wear when they meet Constance and Kate.... (full context)
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Feeling that there is no way to get Hardcastle to leave them alone, Marlow engages him in conversation, but his attitude is mocking. He says that Hardcastle must have... (full context)
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Hardcastle tries to begin telling one of his war stories, but Marlow interrupts him, asking what is on the dinner menu. Hardcastle is shocked at this rude... (full context)
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...Hardcastle’s house, not an inn. When she hears that a young man told Hastings and Marlow the house was an inn, she laughs, quickly surmising that this was a trick of... (full context)
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Hastings says that Marlow’s visit has given them a great opportunity. Once the horses have rested a bit, he... (full context)
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Hastings tells Constance that if Marlow learns that he is in Hardcastle’s house and not an inn, he will be so... (full context)
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Marlow notices Constance, and Hastings tells Marlow that, by a lucky accident, Constance and Kate are... (full context)
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...says to herself that she will act very restrained and modest, just as she imagines Marlow expects her to. Hastings introduces Kate and Marlow, but Marlow looks uncomfortable and says nothing.... (full context)
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Left alone with Kate, Marlow is silent. Kate tries to draw him out, asking him about his experience with women.... (full context)
Act 3
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Alone on stage, Hardcastle wonders aloud why his friend Sir Charles described Marlow as a modest man. He has been shocked by Marlow’s presumptuousness: Marlow has sat in... (full context)
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...for her to change because he was mistaken in thinking she might marry the modest Marlow. Both Kate and Hardcastle express astonishment at Marlow’s behavior, but Hardcastle mistakenly thinks that Kate... (full context)
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Hardcastle says that at least they are agreed on the matter of rejecting Marlow, but Kate urges that they give him another chance. She says that he is the... (full context)
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...her maid, Pimple, enter. Kate has learned about Tony’s prank and laughs with Pimple at Marlow’s mistaking their house for an inn. Pimple tells Kate that Marlow is getting even more... (full context)
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Pimple exits, and Marlow enters, complaining to himself that there is nowhere in the house to find privacy away... (full context)
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Finally, Marlow looks at the “servant” standing in front of him. Immediately interested, he tells her she... (full context)
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...at a club with a bunch of jolly, older women. Kate laughs at this, and Marlow worries that she is laughing at him, but she explains that she can’t imagine how... (full context)
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Hardcastle walks into the room and is shocked to see Marlow groping Kate. Marlow curses his bad luck at being caught by the innkeeper and leaves... (full context)
Act 4
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...the Hardcastles. He assures her that he has her jewels and has given them to Marlow for safekeeping. He also says that Tony has promised him fresh horses for the trip.... (full context)
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Marlow enters with a servant. He says he can’t imagine what Hastings was thinking, giving him... (full context)
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Hastings enters the room, flustered by all his preparations for the elopement. He notices Marlow’s good mood. Marlow tells him that, despite his shyness, he has met a woman, a... (full context)
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Hastings asks Marlow if he stashed the box of jewels somewhere safe as he asked him to. Laughing,... (full context)
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...enters the room. He says to himself that he can hardly contain his anger at Marlow, whose servants have gotten very drunk. He says to Marlow that he hopes he feels... (full context)
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Hardcastle loses his patience entirely and tells Marlow he is kicking him out of the house. Marlow is shocked, and says he has... (full context)
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Left alone, Marlow wonders what Hardcastle’s last statement could have meant. Kate enters and sees that Marlow seems... (full context)
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Marlow tells Kate that he mistook her for the barmaid of the inn. She pretends to... (full context)
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Marlow is touched to see how sad Kate is to see him go. He tells her... (full context)
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Kate tells Marlow that she comes from just as respected a family as Miss Hardcastle, and that the... (full context)
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...berates Tony for showing his mother the letter. Hastings enters and berates Tony as well. Marlow enters and begins to vent his anger at having been tricked and then allowed to... (full context)
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...enters and tells Constance that Mrs. Hardcastle wants her to come to the carriage immediately. Marlow and Hastings continue to argue. Constance begs them to stop, and they do, Marlow apologizing... (full context)
Act 5
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...also reports that Sir Charles has arrived, and he and Hardcastle have been laughing over Marlow’s mistake. Hastings leaves to go wait in the garden for Tony, although he has little... (full context)
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Hardcastle and Sir Charles laugh together at how Marlow mistook Hardcastle for an innkeeper. Hardcastle feels that Marlow ought to have been able to... (full context)
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...a marriage between their children, although Kate’s dowry will not be large. Sir Charles says Marlow has plenty of money already but asks if Hardcastle is sure that Marlow really likes... (full context)
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Marlow enters and apologizes to Hardcastle, saying how embarrassed he is. Hardcastle tells Marlow that they... (full context)
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Back inside the house, Marlow comes to bid Kate goodbye, saying he did not know how sad he would be... (full context)
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...position behind a screen to eavesdrop and discover if Kate is telling the truth about Marlow’s love for her. They hear Marlow tell Kate that he cares nothing for fortune, and... (full context)
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Sir Charles and Hardcastle burst out from behind the screen and demands to know why Marlow has been lying to them. Marlow is completely confused, until it is revealed that the... (full context)