Mr. Hardcastle is rather an easy-going gentleman, tolerant in spirit, living his own way in the countryside, with little ambition, old-fashioned too, unlike his wife who is discontented with country life and studies fashion magazines of town, which she would like to ape. His favourite stories are those of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. He has a little company. His wife’s complaint about him is that he will not take a trip to town to give him a little polish. And he seems to be concerned about town-follies spilling over to the countryside. “I wonder why London cannot keep its own fools at home.” There is some disagreement between him and his wife over the wild ways of Tony but he tolerates his tricks and mischiefs. His relation to his daughter. Kate, is of the most informal kind, and he allows her some latitude too. In any case he treats her and everybody fairly. When he is expecting Marlow, he takes his daughter into his confidence, telling her about the young man and what he thinks of him. It is a frank talk between father and daughter. He is glad to hear that his daughter will not take it to heart if the young fellow, who is-spoken off as young and handsome and not without nobler virtues though he is bashful and reserved, will reject her. There is good understanding between father and daughter. It appears that he does not get all that is due to him from his wife, and he is drawn more closer to his daughter.
Like a good host he prepares his servants for the reception of Marlow- and Marlow later disappoints him. He tells Marlow and his friend, Hastings, his favourite story of the Duke of Marlborough, but he receives little response from them. He is shabbily treated by them. He does not at first appear to be sensitive. Marlow orders a glass of punch, and Hardcastle is a little intrigued by the way Marlow is behaving with him. We learn incidentally that Hardcastle is little interested in politics. Once he bothered much about the mistakes of the government, but now he leaves it to go its own way. But he has a great deal to do to settle the disputes’ in his neighbourhood. His guests are far from being entertained by his story of Prince Eugene which he is not allowed to finish. Marlow demands his supper and wants to look about it himself. They talk of the menu and the bill, but Hardcastle does not suspect that his guests are talking as if they were at an inn. Hardcastle is too good-natured. They have no desire to hear the story of his uncle, Colonel Wallop: yet Hardcastle thinks nothing of their snubbing. They discuss the menu and want to cut out this and that item. Hardcastle seems to be confounded by the manner in which they talk. “Their impudence confounds me.” He is still polite to them. He does not know whether it is a sample of modern modesty.
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He is not a very discerning man, and cannot suspect what can be wrong with Marlow whose father recommends him as the modest young man in town. He has not the remotest idea that his house is being treated as an inn and he as an inn-keeper. His daughter’s impression of Marlow seems to surprise him all the more. He has been more than modest to Kate, and he is all impudence to Hardcastle. How to reconcile these contradictory impression? Miss Hardcastle is more discerning certainly. When she is told that he has been treated with undue familiarity and asked if he was a maker of punch, she thinks that there must have some mistake. He is easily persuaded by his daughter to let her have a fair trial with Marlow. We see again that Hardcastle is an easy-going, good- natured gentleman. He does not even lose his temper when he next sees Marlow, holding his daughter by the hand and his daughter struggling with him. He must have infinite patience and a consideration for his friend, Sir Charles Marlow. His daughter again persuades him to give her a little more time when she will convince him that Marlow is a modest young man. The conduct of Marlow’s servants is now insufferable. They are in possession of Hardcastle’s cellar and are getting drunk. Marlow is encouraging his servants in this matter. Now Hardcastle loses his patience, and desires Marlow to leave his house, but Marlow does not take him seriously. He cannot think of leaving his house so late at night. He, however, calls for the bill. Even then Hardcastle does not see Marlow’s mistake. Hardcastle tells him that he has been so disappointed by him because his father’s letter led him to expect a well-bred, modest man whereas he finds him a coxcomb and bully. He is expecting Marlow’s father soon. Now the truth begins to dawn upon Marlow, but Hardcastle is miles away from it.
Marlow’s folly is known to Hardcastle by the time his father arrives. And he, good-natured as he is, laughs over it. He readily forgets the insults he met at the hands of Marlow. Marlow personally begs his forgiveness and Hardcastle has already forgiven Marlow. He is perplexed when Marlow denies having made any demonstration of affection for his daughter and denies to his father too that he never grasped Miss Hardcastle by the hand. The matter is settled by another test of Marlow, proposed by Miss Hardcastle. Hardcastle’s and Marlow’s father watch and overhear the two unseen when they meet again. And there is again a demonstration of Marlow’s affection for Kate. Now the last mistake of Marlow about Miss Hardcastle, being first, a barmaid and then a poor relation of the family is dispelled. Hardcastle bears his part in bringing Marlow’s affair with his daughter to a happy issue. In Hastings’s affair with Miss Neville. Hardcastle plays a similar role. He declares Tony as being of age, and the matter is easily settled by Tony formally renouncing Miss Neville so that Hastings is now free to marry Miss Neville with her fortune too. So Hardcastle proves a good angel in the play.