She Stoops to Conquer

by

Oliver Goldsmith

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Kate Hardcastle Character Analysis

An intelligent, good-humored, sensible, and beautiful young woman, Kate is confident in her own merits and appreciative of the good in those around her. She loves and respects her father, Hardcastle, and humors him by dressing in the old-fashioned manner he prefers half the time. Although she is interested in the fashions of her day, she does not define herself by how she dresses, but takes a flexible attitude towards self-presentation. Kate is at the age when most women of her time look for a husband, and she is interested in finding someone handsome and intelligent and settling down, so she is excited when her father tells her that Marlow, the son of his oldest friend, will pay them a visit to make her acquaintance. Kate is perceptive and able to think on her feet, so when she learns that Marlow is shy around women of his own class but bold around lower-class women—and, what’s more, has mistaken her in her old-fashioned dress for a servant—she quickly turns the situation to her advantage and begins impersonating a member of the lower class. Kate’s decision to pretend to be a member of the lower class to win Marlow’s heart is the “stooping” referred to in the play’s title. This stratagem succeeds in helping Kate and Marlow to get to know one another and learn that they like each other, and enables Kate to “conquer” by winning Marlow’s heart and his hand in marriage.

Kate Hardcastle Quotes in She Stoops to Conquer

The She Stoops to Conquer quotes below are all either spoken by Kate Hardcastle or refer to Kate Hardcastle. 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

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:

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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Kate Hardcastle Character Timeline in She Stoops to Conquer

The timeline below shows where the character Kate Hardcastle appears in She Stoops to Conquer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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Still ruminating, Hardcastle says that modern times are making everyone foolish. He sees his daughter Kate and remarks to himself that even she is interested in fashion and wears fancy French... (full context)
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Hardcastle says he will require Kate’s obedience soon, because the man he wants her to marry is coming from London to... (full context)
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Kate tells her father that she will accept Marlow as a husband if he has all... (full context)
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Alone, Kate ruminates aloud about Marlow, wondering whether she will like him and whether it is possible... (full context)
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Kate’s cousin, Constance Neville, enters, and Kate asks her how she thinks she looks today. Constance... (full context)
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Kate asks Constance whether her mother is still trying to convince her to marry Tony, and... (full context)
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Constance continues, telling Kate she hopes that her true love, Hastings, will not give up on marrying her and... (full context)
Act 2
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...he is a dutiful son, but he will not try to overcome his shyness with Kate. (full context)
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...Marlow talks to Hastings about what they ought to wear when they meet Constance and Kate. Hardcastle continually tries to redirect their attention by telling a story about his career in... (full context)
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Marlow notices Constance, and Hastings tells Marlow that, by a lucky accident, Constance and Kate are both at the inn now. Becoming nervous about meeting the women, Marlow says that... (full context)
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Kate enters. She has just returned from a walk and is wearing a bonnet. She says... (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... (full context)
Act 3
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Kate enters. She is now wearing the plain clothing her father prefers. He says that there... (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 kind of... (full context)
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Kate and her maid, Pimple, enter. Kate has learned about Tony’s prank and laughs with Pimple... (full context)
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...to find privacy away from the innkeeper and his wife. Pretending to be a servant, Kate asks him if he called, but he ignores her. He says to himself that Miss... (full context)
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...to flirt with her, asking her age and coming close to look at her face. Kate keeps up a steady banter with him, playing the role of a quick-witted, self-respecting, and... (full context)
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Kate, still playing the role of barmaid, says that it sounds like he is a real... (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 the room.... (full context)
Act 4
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...landlord and landlady are both very eccentric. He also thinks about the barmaid he met (Kate), and vows to try again to seduce her. (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 to be realizing he is not in an inn.... (full context)
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Marlow tells Kate that he mistook her for the barmaid of the inn. She pretends to be hurt... (full context)
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Marlow is touched to see how sad Kate is to see him go. He tells her she is the only person in the... (full context)
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Kate tells Marlow that she comes from just as respected a family as Miss Hardcastle, and... (full context)
Act 5
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...that he is very excited at the prospect of a marriage between their children, although Kate’s dowry will not be large. Sir Charles says Marlow has plenty of money already but... (full context)
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...is. Hardcastle tells Marlow that they will soon all laugh over it, once he and Kate decide to marry. Marlow denies any intention of marrying Kate. Hardcastle says that he saw... (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 to leave her until... (full context)
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...Sir Charles and Hardcastle get in 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... (full context)
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...completely confused, until it is revealed that the woman he has been speaking to is Kate Hardcastle herself. She laughs, saying that she is the tall, unattractive woman he met earlier... (full context)
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...other characters rejoice and look forward to the two couples’ coming marriages. Hardcastle says that Kate is a wonderful daughter and he believes she will be a very good wife. (full context)
Epilogue 1
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Goldsmith likely wrote this Epilogue to be spoken by the actress playing Kate. It compares life to a five-act play and describes a play about the barmaid whom... (full context)