She Stoops to Conquer
by Oliver Goldsmith
The Mistakes of a Night
She Stoops to Conquer is a comedy by Anglo-Irish author Oliver Goldsmith that was first performed in London in 1773.
Wealthy countryman Mr. Hardcastle arranges for his daughter Kate to meet Charles Marlow, the son of a rich Londoner, hoping the pair will marry. Unfortunately, Marlow is nervous around upper-class women, yet the complete opposite around working-class women. On his first acquaintance with Kate, the latter realises she will have to pretend to be 'common', or Marlow will not woo her. Thus Kate 'stoops to conquer', by posing as a maid, hoping to put Marlow at his ease so he falls for her. Marlow sets out for the Hardcastle's manor with a friend, George Hastings, an admirer of Miss Constance Neville, another young lady who lives with the Hardcastles. During the journey the two men become lost and stop at an alehouse, The Three Jolly Pigeons, for directions.
Tony Lumpkin, Kate's step-brother and cousin of Constance, comes across the two strangers at the alehouse and, realising their identity, plays a practical joke by telling them that they are a long way from their destination and will have to stay overnight at an inn. The "inn" he directs them to is in fact the home of the Hardcastles. When they arrive, the Hardcastles, who have been expecting them, go out of their way to make them welcome. However, Marlow and Hastings, believing themselves in an inn, behave extremely disdainfully towards their hosts. Hardcastle bears their unwitting insults with forbearance, because of his friendship with Marlow's father.