She Stoops to Conquer


She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith, 1773

Notable for

  • being pretty much the only play written in the 18th century that anyone still cares about.  This was not a great century for literature, guys.

She Stoops to Conquer is a Congreve-esque comedy of situation.  A young aristocrat discovers that her potential suitor is terribly shy around gentlewomen, so she poses as a serving girl in order to win his affection.  Meanwhile, her mischievous step-brother pulls some amusing pranks.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this particular piece of literature.  It’s a funny play.  The comedy centers around characters misunderstanding each other’s’ rank and behaving inappropriately.  It’s very much in the same vein as Congreve, but pared down a bit.  More jokes, fewer aphorisms.  If you enjoy reading/seeing plays, this one is definitely worth your time.

Favorite Snippet:

HARDCASTLE. Depend upon it, child, I’ll never control your
choice; but Mr. Marlow, whom I have pitched upon, is the son
of my old friend, Sir Charles Marlow, of whom you have heard
me talk so often. The young gentleman has been bred a scholar,
and is designed for an employment in the service of his country.
I am told he’s a man of an excellent understanding.
HARDCASTLE. Very generous.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I believe I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. Young and brave.
MISS HARDCASTLE. I’m sure I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. And very handsome.
MISS HARDCASTLE. My dear papa, say no more, (kissing his hand), he’s mine; I’ll have him.

You might like this play if you like:

  • William Congreve.
  • Oscar Wilde.
  • a good prank.


You might not like this play if:

  • you’re more into Pinter and dramas than Wilde and comedies.