She Stoops to Conquer


Oliver Goldsmith

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She Stoops to Conquer: Epilogue 1 Summary & Analysis

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 Kate was pretending to be. The barmaid begins her life shy and nervous and hoping to be hired to work at a country inn. In the second act, she gains confidence as she presides over a bar in the countryside. In the third, she moves to town, where she begins to have lovers and enjoy a busy social life while working. In the fourth act, she marries someone with money and begins to aspire to be fashionable and sophisticated. Finally, she grows old and passes her time playing cards. The first Epilogue concludes that, since the play is over, all that is left is for the Barmaid to plead that the audience reward the playwright by approving of the play they have just watched.
Just as prologues were often used to prepare audiences for the kind of performance they were about to see, epilogues were used as a final attempt to win the audience’s favorable impression of a play. In this instance, a play which may have made the audience nervous through its bending of the normal rigid boundaries between the classes ends with a more conventional satirical portrayal of a flirtatious, social-climbing barmaid. By having the actor who played the upper-class Kate deliver this description of the fictitious barmaid, the play also continues to hint that class is more of a performance than an inborn quality that naturally separates or defines people.
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