Top positive review
Among the Most Read and Performed English Comedies
on December 30, 2003
Few English plays dating from the eighteenth century appeal to modern audiences. For much of that period comedies were characterized by sentimentality, humanitarianism, and moralizing. Independently, the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinsley Sheridan rejected this moralizing mode and returned to a humorous, mildly satirical form of comedy.
In a short period they created three plays that are still enjoyed today - She Stoops to Conquer (Goldsmith, 1773), The School for Scandal (Sheridan, 1775) and The Rivals (Sheridan, 1777).
In recent months I have read all three play. All are quite good, but I especially liked She Stoops to Conquer and The School for Scandal. While The School for Scandal is widely admired for its witty dialogue, She Stoops to Conquer offers the most hilarious situations. It is great fun to read.
The basic theme is familiar. The guardians, her father Mr. Hardcastle and her aunt Mrs. Hardcastle, have arranged a suitable marriage for young Miss Hardcastle. She, of course, has other plans. Oliver Goldsmith transformed this overly used situation into delightful comedy. The plot is complicated by a shy suitor, friends with their own plans of elopement, and an unruly prankster, all leading to utter confusion in the rustic Hardcastle household. I quickly became engaged with the ridiculous happenings and I read She Stoops to Conquer in a single sitting.
The inexpensive Dover edition has only a few footnotes, but footnotes are not really required. I give this entertaining play five stars.