She Stoops To Conquer is often described as Classical comedy. Unlike Shakespeare’s Romantic Comedies, it follows elements prescribed in classical theatre in which events occur around a specific plot, location and time.
Mr Hardcastle has announced to his daughter Kate, that he has picked a potential husband for her. She is glad to hear he is young and handsome but dismayed to be told that he is extremely shy around women.
Mr Marlow and his friend Mr Hastings arrive at the Hardcastle residence having been tricked into believing that it is a local inn. On arrival he mistakes Mr Hardcastle for the landlord, Miss Hardcastle for the barmaid and treats them dismissively.
As his attraction develops for the barmaid, Mr Marlow disdains the proper Miss Hardcastle, even telling his father that he has made no proposal towards her. It is left to Miss Hardcastle to reveal the true situation to both their fathers, thus ensuring the lovematch.
The equally light sub-plot is formed by Mr Hastings’ plans to elope with Miss Neville, Mrs Hardcastle ward. Miss Neville is reluctant to elope without her jewels which Mrs Hardcastle holds. A further complication is Mrs Hardcastle''s own designs for her son Tony Lumpkin and Miss Neville to marry. Through their own integrity in revealing their plans to elope, Mss Neville and Mr Hastings gain the blessing of all concerned.
The plot is assisted by a number of factors: Tony Lumpkin (Mr Hardcastle’s step-son) mis-informs the two gentlemen that the house is an inn, Mr Marlow fails to enlighten his friend when he himself discovers the truth, and Miss Hardcastle’s attempts to maintain Mr Marlow’s more outgoing side.
Although based on a simple theme, the elements of class, pretension and romance may well help this comedy maintain to its popularity for another 300 years.