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Literary Analysis: Social Class In She Stoops To Conquer, By Oliver Goldsmith

985 words - 4 pages

Literary analysis: social class in She Stoops to Conquer, by Oliver Goldsmith

Title: "It is not so much the difference between classes which is explored, but rather the extremely different ways in which certain characters treat people according to which class they belong to is explore." With this in mind, consider Goldsmith's treatment of social class in She stoops to Conquer.

Set in the Restoration period in the 17th and 18th century England, Oliver Goldsmith employs much wit, craft and style in She stoops to Conquer, in which one mistake feeds on another, and ultimately accumulating in a play of farce. It shows to a great extent that social snobbery or double standards in ...view middle of the document...

This is shown from the way Marlow and Hastings talk about the barmaids that Marlow flirts with back in his hometown.

Due to the fact that She stoops to conquer is meant to be a comedy, Goldsmith does not portray the social class discrimination to be awkward for the audience but shown in a more comical light so that dramatic tension is reduced for the audience. This is seen in his portrayal of Marlow who is already classified as a man of good caliber by Mr Hardcastle in Act 1, Scene 1 during his talk with kate Hardcastle. The fact that Marlow is supposedly a good man allows the audience to forgive his behaviour and accept his flaws. Hence, the way that Goldsmith portrays evidence is not offensive to the audience and thus can fulfil the expectations of it of a comedy of manners.

As mentioned earlier, Mrs Hardcastle and Mr Marlow can be seen as the two main characters who are class-conscious. Firstly, Mrs Hardcastle is already seen as a vain, superficial women in Act1, scene 1 when she complains to Mr Hardcastle about never going to town. She portrays herself to be modern and certainly more fashionable than her 'old fashioned' husband. However, it is obvious that Mrs Hardcastle is still the 'old fashioned' social snobbery. She is seen to be overbearing on her son, Tony Lumpkin and her niece, Constance Neville in getting them married.However,her intention is soon made clear by Constance that the marriage that Mrs Hardcstle proposes is so that she can keep Constance's fortune of jewels in the family. It is most evident that Constance's allegations against Mrs HardCastle are correct when in the later part of the novel, Mrs HardCastle refuses to let Conatance borrow the gems to adorn her neck. She makes excuses on why Constance cannot wear the jewels saying that she need not have the jewels to adorn...

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