She Stoops to Conquer


Oliver Goldsmith

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Clothing Symbol Analysis

Clothing Symbol Icon

Clothing is a marker of class status and sophistication, but not an absolutely accurate one. Looks can be deceiving, and characters in the play who read too much into clothing can be deceived by those who see what is going on underneath the surface. Mrs. Hardcastle and Marlow are both too fixated on their clothing and the clothing of others to be able to see the truth about the characters around them. At the same time, Mr. Hardcastle’s stubborn insistence on dressing himself and his family in an old-fashioned style leads Marlow to easily mistake him for an innkeeper and his daughter for barmaid. The way the characters dress signal something about them, but far from everything. Thus, clothing comes to symbolize the often-superficial nature of first impressions and appearances.

Clothing Quotes in She Stoops to Conquer

The She Stoops to Conquer quotes below all refer to the symbol of Clothing. 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
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:

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:
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Clothing Symbol Timeline in She Stoops to Conquer

The timeline below shows where the symbol Clothing 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
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Fashions and Tastes Theme Icon
...and remarks to himself that even she is interested in fashion and wears fancy French clothing after living in London for a time. Kate enters and Hardcastle comments on her extravagant... (full context)
Act 2
Courtship and Love Theme Icon
Fashions and Tastes Theme Icon
...both at the inn now. Becoming nervous about meeting the women, Marlow says that his clothing looks bad after a day spent travelling and he wants to wait until the next... (full context)
Act 3
Mistakes and Deceptions Theme Icon
Class and Geography Theme Icon
Courtship and Love Theme Icon
Fashions and Tastes Theme Icon
Kate enters. She is now wearing the plain clothing her father prefers. He says that there was no reason for her to change because... (full context)
Mistakes and Deceptions Theme Icon
Class and Geography Theme Icon
Courtship and Love Theme Icon
Fashions and Tastes Theme Icon
...that Marlow is getting even more confused. When Kate walked past Marlow in her simple clothing, Marlow asked Pimple if Kate was the inn’s barmaid. Kate asks Pimple if she is... (full context)
Epilogue 2
Class and Geography Theme Icon There, they live a rowdy existence and throw their money around buying art and clothing, eager to prove that they are just as good as those who live in the... (full context)