She Stoops to Conquer as an Anti Sentimental Comedy

Question: Anti-Sentimental Comedy with the reference with she stoops to Conquer.

Anti Sentimental Comedy

Introduction: Comedy means professional entertainment consisting of jokes. Anti-sentimental comes to existence in the reaction against the sentimental comedy. It is also known as “comedy of manners”. The pioneer of Anti-sentimental comedy is Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774). “She Stoops to Conquer” is an anti-sentimental comedy. It is also famous with the title “The Mistake of Night”, first performed in London in 1773.

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Amusing intrigue and situation

The first characteristic of anti-sentimental comedy is amusing intrigue and situation. This we can see in this play. The play consists of the intrigues of Tony. His tricks against Marlow and Hastings are the principal source of the situation of wit and humor. We found Tony’s intrigues give motion to drama. He introduces his house as an inn and Mr. Hardcastle as an innkeeper. These tricks contribute a lot to the comic impression of the play. Marlow mistakes his future father-in-law as an innkeeper and orders him.

There is also one more trick played by Tony and Miss. Constance is an orphan and lives with her aunt Mrs. Hardcastle. Mrs. Hardcastle wants that Tony must be married to Constance because she has a jewel box. But Constance loves Hastings. Contrariwise Tony pretends to love Constance in front of his mother. Then Tony steals a jewel box from his mother and helps Constance and Hastings to unite.

Marriage for love and Mone

One of the important characteristics is marriage for love and marriage for money.  The plot of the drama is constructed based on marriage for love and money. Tony’s mother Mrs. Hardcastle wants that Tony must be married to Constance because she has a jewelry box. But Constance loves Hastings and Tony also helps them to get married. Mrs. Hardcastle’s intention of marriage is the token of marriage for money. Constance marries Hastings because of their love for each other. The marriage of Marlow and Kate also happens because of love.

Satirical comedy and Irony

The second characteristic of Anti-sentimental comedy is a satirical comedy. We can also find this in play. We find satire on class conflict in the play. Marlow is satirized since he is not comfortable with the polite class, but he is comfortable with the barmaid. He cannot talk to Kate when he meets her for marriage, but he can easily talk to her when she comes as a barmaid or servant. Irony can also be found in the play.

The wit of language and verbal dialogue

In act 3 we find that Tony and Hastings are talking about the Jewell.  Tony steals Jewell and passes on them. And then speak,

“Ask me no question and I’ll tell you no fibs”

The meaning of the line is “If one asks a strange or nonsensical question the listener will probably respond with a similarly strange or nonsensical answer”.  We can see here wit of language and verbal dialogue.

 Farce and disguise

Many critics have described that “She Stopped to Conquer” is a comedy of broad humor and outlandish incident of Classical farce. Some of the characters such as Mrs. Hardcastle and others create a crystal structure of farce.

Disguise is also an important characteristic of anti-sentimental comedy. Here we find when Kate comes to know that Marlow is feeling uncomfortable when she dresses as the upper-class lady. The next morning, she dresses as simple. Then Marlow notices her and talks freely with her. In this way, we find farce and disguise both in the play “She Stoops to Conquer”.

Boundaries of emotions

The boundaries are guidelines, rules, or limits. we find the emotional boundaries in the character of Marlow. We see that when Kate is in her original upper-class dress, Marlowe cannot talk to her comfortably and also does not allow her to near him. But as soon as she takes the disguise of the waitress, Marlowe talks freely with her and falls in love with her.


To conclude we can say that “She Stoops to Conquer” is the best example of an Anti-sentimental comedy. We find all the six characteristics of anti-sentimental comedy in the play.

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Biswazit Kumar
Biswazit Kumar
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