Character Sketch Of Tony Lumpkin In She Stoops to Conquer

Tony Lumpkin is certainly essential to the play. Without Tony we cannot think of the fun and mirth, the complication of the action and the final resolution. He is fond of tavern-life and low company. It is but a young man. allowed to run wild, and his mother is responsible for it. But there are good elements in his character, and they emerge later in the play. He is a likable character, unlike his mother. His love of mischief misdirects Marlow and Hastings to the house of Hardcastle as to an inn. And that is the real starting point of the drama. Tony has a motive too for misdirecting the two gentleman: “father-in-law i.e., (step father) has been calling me whelp’an hound this half year. Now if I pleased. I could he revenged upon the old grumbletonian.” Of course out of fun he plays this trick. His delight is in mischief-making. The revenge motive is just invented by him. His trick is essential to the action of the play and to giving it a fully comic turn.

Tony is kept out of all that goes on between Marlow and Hardcastle and Marlow and Miss Hardcastle. But he is drawn into the affair of Hastings and Miss Neville. His mother intends to have Miss Neville for him, particularly in view of her fortune, but Tony has no interest either in Miss Neville or her fortune. He does not seem to have any mercenary motive like his mother. Of course he has a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a year and his mother has kept it from him under the pretext that he is still under age. He values his fortune, if at all, only because it will set him free from the apronstrings of his mother. His mother is making a hell of his life between drugging him with medicines and pestering him with the unwanted attention of Miss Neville. Hardcastle, if it had been left to him, might have reared him in a better way: His education has been neglected, because his mother thinks he can do without it since he has fifteen hundred pounds a year. Town- fashions are all right for the mother, but the son can he left rustic. “I don’t think a boy wants much learning to spend fifteen hundred a year”-that is the mother’s idea. Hardcastle rightly says that he is a mixture of tricks and mischief. He himself was a victim of his tricks. One day Tony fastened Hardcastle’s wig to the back of his chair. and when he was up to make a bow, he popped his bald head in Mrs. Frizzle’s face. His mother describes it as his humour. And Hardcastle’s reply is: “if burning the footmen’s shoes, frightening the maids, and worrying the kittens be humour, he has it.” The fact is that Tony has been spoiled by his mother.

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Tony might have been made a better man if he had been left to Hardcastle. It is curious that he has nothing to do with Kate-in the play they have been brought together, we do not find them exchanging a single word. Not his mother. but Kate might have been a good example to him. His mother -constantly nagging at him, and Kate keeping out of his way, and his stepfather taking little interest in him, it is not to be wondered if he takes to tavern-life. If Miss Neville had loved him-for he knows that she is playing a part. sometimes pre-arranged by the two, it might have saved him. Bet Bouncer for whom he professes love may be after all a myth, for she has not been introduced in the play. He might have invented Bet Bouncer in his self-defence. The unwanted match in which a girl who does not love him. is going to be forced upon him. makes him invent the myth of Bet Bouncer. Tony is not given to self-introspection, or we might have known him better. He is more sinned against than sinning. The underlying pathos of his character needs to be stressed by analysing the circumstances of his life and upbringing. He is just an alien in the house of Hardcastle.

The good points in Tony’s character need to be brought to light. They are revealed in his dealing with the affair of Hastings and Miss Neville, he has not a twinge of jealousy. He has sense enough to see that Hastings is in love with Miss Neville, and he comes forward to help him. Hastings proposes. “If you but assist me. I’ll engage to whip her off to France. and you shall never hear of her.” Tony replies. “Assist you! Ecod! I will. to the last drop of my blood. I will clap a pair of horses to your chaise that shall trundle you off in a twinkling, and maybe get you a part of her fortune besides, in jewels, that you little dream of.” The pact, which he enters into, and which he pledges his word to fulfill. marks the height of generosity in Tony. Tony might have kept Miss Neville and her fortune for himself, as his mother desired, no matter if Miss Neville loved him or not, for he could have his Bet Bouncer into the bargain. Hastings only compliments him as ‘a lad of spirit.” He is indeed a lad of spirit.

Then Tony steals Miss Neville’s casket of jewels which was in the keeping of his mother and hands it to Hastings. There might have been little trouble if Hastings had kept it with himself instead of trusting it to Marlow. But we could not have missed in any case the fun when Tony badgers his mother over the loss of the jewels. It is no fault of Tony if Hastings’ plan of elopement with Miss Neville is going to be wrecked. Miss Neville’s jewels come to the possession of Mrs. Hardcastle again. And she discovers the plot to which her son is a part accidentally by the letter that Hastings writes to Tony. It is Hastings who bungles, and Miss Neville has to suffer for it. Mrs. Hardcastle is now going to hustle Miss Neville off to her old aunt. Pedigree, and so she can scotch the plot. Tony is blamed by both Hastings and Miss Neville. Anybody else than Tony would have at this moment, washed his hands of the whole affair. But Tony has a good sporting spirit. To redeem the unpleasant situation, he pledges his word again: “Ecod I have hit it. It’s here. Your hands. Yours and yours, my poor sulky -My boots there., O! meet me two hours hence at the bottom of the garden and if you don’t find Tony Lumpkin a more good natured fellow than you thought for I’ll give you leave to take my best horse, and Bet Bouncer into the bargain.” Yes. Tony is a resourceful, and good natured fellow, and one can trust his word: Hardcastle thinks that he is good for nothing but the ale-house. Nobody in the play seems to have a good word for him except Miss Neville. Miss Neville says. “It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I’m sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself.” There we have the character in true perspective.

Tony now saves the situation, thanks to his good nature. He drives his mother and Miss Neville in a chaise round and round under the pretext of taking them to Pedigree’s, and lands them by the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden. The mother is none the happier for the trick played upon her “Yes, I shall remember the horse-pond as long as I live: I have caught my death in it. And it is to you, you graceless varlet. I owe all this. I’ll teach you to abuse your mother. I will.” There is poetic justice in it. And Tony’s retort is significant: “Ecod, mother, all the parish says you have spoiled me, and you may take the fruits on’t.” Tony is not a lout, as we might have thought at first. He is possessed of good sense. fair judgment and sober consciousness of what is due to himself and to others. The circumstances of his life have driven him to self-repression, and we see very little of the finer elements of his character. In the last scene we discover the potential goodness of his character. Now he learns that he has been of age more than three months. And this is what he says: “Then you’ll see the first use I’ll make of my liberty. Witness all men by these presents, that 1. Anthony Lumpkin. Esquire, of Blank Place, refuse you. Constance Neville, spinster, of no place at all. for my true, and lawful wife. So Constance Neville may marry whom she pleases, and Tony Lumpkin is his own man again.” Nothing could have been more welcome to Tony than his self-liberation: no less does he prize the liberation of Miss Neville. Tony is a fine character for all that he does to disguise his virtues from others.



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