Narrate The Story Of The Play She Stoops To Conquer

We are first introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle. We learn then that Tony is Mrs. Hardcastle’s son by a former husband, and also that he is a bit of a problem. But what engages our attention at once is the affair of Hardcastle’s daughter, Kate. Hardcastle is expecting Marlow, son of his old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, and designs him as the future husband of his daughter, and takes his daughter into his confidence. The father describes the young man who is coming. It seems to be all right: he is a man of excellent understanding; he is handsome, brave and generous. But when Kate is told that he is one of the most bashful and reserved young fellows in the world, she demurs a little. However, Kate is going to have a try with him.

Then we meet Miss Neville. She comes to see Kate. Miss Neville knows more of Marlow than Kate, and further enlightens Kate. Marlow is a great friend of Hastings, and Hastings is an admirer of Neville. Kate is made a little uneasy when she is told by Neville that Marlow is the modest man among women of reputation and virtue. It will be a problem to manage him then. We now learn that Mrs. Hardcastle has her designs upon Neville whom she wants to marry Tony so that she can keep on with her fortune in the family. Tony, however, does not want to marry Neville. And we understand that Neville is in love with Hastings. And Marlow is bringing along Hastings with him for he, bashful and tongue tied as he is, in the company of women of accomplishment and virtue, needs the backing of his friend in his courtship of Kate.

Marlow and Hastings arrive at The Three Pigeons, an inn where Tony is making merry with his companions. Tony knows too that Marlow is coming. He plays a trick by directing the two friends who have lost their way to his step father’s old house to an inn. He gives them a hint that the landlord is rich, but is going to leave business, and therefore expects to be treated as a gentleman.

In the meantime Hardcastle instructs his servants as to how they should behave with his guest (Marlow), but they seem to be none the wiser for these instructions. Marlow and Hastings reach the house soon, and they have the impression that it is an inn, and they behave accordingly. Marlow is far from being at his ease; the idea of courtship is a torture to him. He tells Hastings how he is going to behave with the lady (Miss Hardcastle) whom he has been sent by his father to visit. He will bow very low, and answer yes or no to all her demands. But when Hardcastle comes to welcome them. Marlow is in his natural self again, for after all he is at an inn, and tackles the landlord as he should with all his effrontery in low company: Hardcastle is disillusioned by Marlow’s behaviour. Marlow and Hastings seem to be troubled by Hardcastle, the landlord’s civilities, and Hardcastle is troubled by Marlow’s impudence.

Hastings happens to meet Miss Neville here, and then he learns the truth that they are at the house of Hardcastle. Hastings wants to keep it secret from Marlow. The love motive of the play, which is certainly in a lower key. appears now. Hastings tells Neville that he has now his best chance of eloping with her to France. He is almost ready for it. But Neville is unwilling to part with her fortune, which consists in jewels, and these jewels are in the keeping of Mrs. Hardcastle. Tony has no eye upon her or upon her jewels. It is her mother who is keeping these jewels from her which would be an addition to the fortune that Tony inherits.

Hastings later introduces Miss Neville to Marlow. It is just an accident as Hastings tells him that Miss Neville and Miss Hardcastle are at the inn at the moment to take fresh horses after they have dined in the neighbourhood. Marlow is in a funk as Miss Hardcastle comes in, and so long as Hastings stays with him. he carries on, but when he leaves the two alone. Marlow is embarrassed and fumbles. Kate is not hopeless about Marlow; he is very bashful, but he is not wanting in good sense, and she believes that she can reform him.

Mrs. Hardcastle and Hastings entertain each other. She loves to talk of London with a craving for its fashions, and Hastings flatters her for her refined air and manners, and she claims to be more enlightened than the neighbouring rustics for she depends on the fashion magazines of the day for her dress and manners. She is unhappy because she cannot get her husband to follow her own way. She is glad to hear the wearing of jewels is going out of fashion.

Tony complains to her that he is being followed about by Miss Neville. whom he cannot stand. Miss Neville, has to play a part as if she were all love for Tony in order to wheedle Mrs. Hardcastle out of her jewels in her keeping. Tony wants his independence and his fortune to which he is entitled when he is of age. He is rebellious. Finally she has to leave him in the hands of Hastings who offers to lecture him. Tony runs down Miss Neville, he cannot stand her. Hastings offers to relieve Tony of Miss Neville, and Tony is very willing to help Hastings in his plan of elopement.

Miss Hardcastle makes her own plan to get the better of Marlow. She is going to play the barmaid. She has a talk with her father; her father has the impression of Marlow’s unpardonable impudence, while Kate has the impression of his impregnable modesty. How to reconcile the two impressions, that is the problem. Kate is ready to test him again, and there is a pact between father and daughter. If he is right then Marlow goes; if his daughter is right. Marlow stays. In the meantime Tony secures Miss Neville’s jewels, and hands them over to Hastings. The loss is soon discovered by Mrs. Hardcastle; and a row is made over it, while Tony keeps nagging at her. Mrs. Hardcastle soon again gets possession of the jewels. Hastings hands the casket to Marlow for safe custody, and Marlow in his turn sends it to the landlady (ie. Mrs. Hardcastle).

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Miss Hardcastle in the role of a barmaid soon catches Marlow’s fancy. He forgets all his bashfulness now. He is captivated by her beauty which he has hardly noticed when he met her as Miss Hardcastle. A torrent of impetuous words flows from him. He begs that he may be permitted to kiss her, which Miss Hardcastle does not permit. Marlow respects her virtue. Carried away by his impulse, he at last seizes her hand, and Miss Hardcastle tries to snatch it away when her father appears there, and is surprised. Marlow runs away. The scene is a confirmation of Hardcastle’s own impression of Marlow. His daughter begs a little more time to convince her father of Marlow’s modesty and to this Hardcastle finally agrees.

Hastings is preparing for the flight, which he cannot postpone any further when he learns from Miss Neville that Sir Charles Marlow is arriving soon. He now learns from Marlow that he has sent the casket of jewels to the landlady. He decides that he must carry off Miss Neville without the jewels then. Hardcastle loses all his patience with Marlow. His servants are getting drunk, and Marlow is encouraging them to do so. Hardcastle finally tells Marlow and his pack to leave the house at once, late at night as it is. His hint that his father’s letter led him to expect a well-bred, modest young man, and that his father is arriving there soon, first strikes him whether he has not made a mistake after all. It might not be the inn that he took it for: it might be the house of Hardcastle.

He comes upon Miss Hardcastle (and she is still the barmaid) when she seems to be in a hurry. She is not going to undeceive him as yet. She admits that it is Hardcastle’s house, and as to herself she says that she is a poor relation of the family. He wants to run away now from the house. She apologises if she has done anything to drive him off from the house, and is in tears. Marlow is moved by the sight of tears. He confesses his love, and he is sorry that difference in position forbids marriage. She pleads that her family is as good as Miss Hardcastle’s. Marlow is charmed by her simplicity and innocence. He excuses himself by saying that if he were independent (for he would have to respect the opinion of the world and the authority of his father), he would have made his choice at once. He leaves her. But Miss Hardcastle is not going to let him leave the house if she can. She has stooped to conquer him, and she is going to enlist her father’s assistance.

Mrs. Hardcastle now wants to take Miss Neville away, and put her up with her aunt Pedigree, whom she dreads. She and Tony make a show of fandling when, Mrs. Hardcastle arrives there, and she is pleased. Now a letter from Hastings is brought to Tony. He is unable to read the letter. Miss Neville does it for him, inventing the content all for herself to deceive Mrs. Hardcastle. Tony hands the letter to his mother who finds out the truth about the elopement. Mrs. Hardcastle at once decides to carry off Miss Neville to Pedigree’s. The very post-chaise which would have taken away Hastings and Miss Neville, is now to be utilized for this purpose,

Marlow is upset because he has discovered his mistake; Hastings is upset because his plan has been foiled. And the two seem to be on the points of falling out, each complaining about the other. Tony is ready again to help Hastings. Mrs. Hardcastle drives off with Miss Neville in the post-Chaise with Tony on horseback..

Sir Charles Marlow is now with Hardcastle. Marlow comes to beg pardon of Hardcastle for his insolent behaviour, and Hardcastle readily forgives him. He questions Marlow about his interview with his daughter, having in mind the scene in which Marlow caught hold of his daughter’s hand, making a protestation of his love. Marlow remembers his formal interview with Miss Hardcastle, and assures Hardcastle that it did not go beyond profound respect on his part and distant reserve on hers. Hardcastle doubts whether it is not another form of impudence. Then Sir Charles asks his son whether he did not grasp Miss Hardcastle’s hand. Marlow denies it and runs away. Hardcastle and Sir Charles are both confounded. They next question Miss Hardcastle. She admits that Marlow grasped her hand, and that they had more than one interview, and he professed love to her. But this does not convince Sir Charles. He cannot believe that his son will behave that way. Miss Hardcastle then proposes that they should watch unseen while she gets Marlow to declare his passion for him again.

Hastings and Tony meet at the back of the garden as pre-arranged. Tony tells him the whole story-how he has taken the two ladies (his mother and Neville) round and round, and finally brought them back to the horse-pond at the bottom of the garden. Hastings goes away to rescue Miss Neville, Mrs. Hardcastle comes up to Tony, and Tony plays upon her terror, for she seems to be stranded at an unknown spot when there appears Hardcastle himself. Mrs. Hardcastle in her terror and confusion cannot make out her husband. She takes him to be a highwayman, and throws herself on her knees, begging him to spare her son. Hardcastle cries out: “Have you gone out of your senses?” Now Hardcastle finds that it is one of the tricks of Tony. Hastings meets Miss Neville. but Miss Neville is not yet prepared to run away with him, leaving behind her jewels.

The next scene is the pre-arranged interview between Miss Hardcastle and Marlow, the latter knowing nothing of his father and Hardcastle’s eavesdropping. Marlow comes to take leave of Miss Hardcastle when he is still ignorant of her identity. Marlow again begins to praise her beauty and simplicity, and he is now ready to forget the social difference, and he believes that he will be able to persuade his father to let him marry her-he believes in his father’s discernment. So he is not going to leave the house. He goes down on his knees before her. Sir Charles and Hardcastle burst upon him at this moment.

The affair of Hastings and Miss Neville is soon settled. Hardcastle declares that Tony is already of age, whereas the fact has been concealed so long. Now Tony formally renounces Miss Neville-be will not have her for his wife, and she is free to marry anybody she pleases.



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