Discuss the view that Tony Lumpkin in "She Stoops to Conquer"is nothing more than a comic country bumpkin.

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Discuss the view that Tony Lumpkin is nothing more than a comic country bumpkin. (40)

Traditionally the pastoral genre celebrates the virtues of simple, unsophisticated life far from the city or court, in which the population is stereotyped as unintelligent and fatuitous. Tony is characterised as jovial and carefree through language and form. He is uninhibited and is interested in ‘fun going forward’ without being diverted by any sense of commitment, ‘mother, I cannot stay’, which mirrors the unpredictability of nature and country. Through characterisation, Goldsmith uses Tony’s character as a symbol for the simple, idyllic country life where drinking, enjoyment and singing are paramount. Although Goldsmith challenges this stereotype of the rural population through the character of Tony throughout She Stoops to Conquer and subsequently illuminates the theme of opinion vs. reality.

Goldsmith’s nominalisation of Tony Lumpkin initially presents his character as stereotypic of a simple country dweller. ‘Lumpkin’ could be a subtle indication of Tony’s figure. ‘Lump’ suggests that Tony is a stout man, which reflects his uninhibited lifestyle lead in the country; relaxing and singing songs in the Three Pigeons, ‘toroddle, toroddle, toroll’. This mirrors Third Century idealised pastoral life in which shepherds and shepherdesses enjoyed a life of blissful ease, thus presenting Tony as an unsophisticated character who lacks the refinement of a man of the town ‘bred a scholar’. Moreover, Lumpkin is similar to the word ‘bumpkin’ which is a derogatory term for a simple rustic, further implying Tony’s lack of grace. Goldsmith enhances this depiction of Tony’s carefree lifestyle through the setting of the alehouse. ‘Several shabby fellows’ are identified in this setting which reflects the lower social class facet of society which Tony associates with, the adjective ‘shabby’ suggests that this is a relatively impoverished group of local country dwellers who, like Tony, are content with drinking ‘punch’ and smoking ‘tobacco’. The song sung in said alehouse by Tony perpetuates the fact that he lives the unprosperous life of a country bumpkin. The words ‘nonsense’ and ‘learning’ are juxtaposed in the lyrics to show Tony is uninterested in education, and furthermore that he is a lazy and unambitious character; which is how country folk are presented to behave in the pastoral genre. Nonetheless, Goldsmith establishes Tony’s character as much more than this, as he is able to deceive the town folk into believing Hardcastle’s home is ‘an inn.’ Tony’s deception is also rather profound as he diverts Marlow and Hastings from the ‘long, dark, boggy’ road which they intended to travel. The numerous adjectives listed shows Tony as a rather manipulative character with more intelligence than was first shown, which is an anti-pastoral presentation of Tony considering country folk were thought to be kind and welcoming. Through this Goldsmith challenges the stereotypes of the country, as Tony, a supposed country bumpkin is able to mislead the town folk with supposed ‘excellent understanding’. This farce encompasses the themes of appearances and stereotypes into the plot and undermines the simplicity of Tony’s character.

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Goldsmith parallels Tony with the servants and doric characters like Diggory, which the country hosts. The poor grammar of Diggory, ‘parfectly unpossible’, shows his low levels of intellect; supposedly as a result of rustic life. Goldsmith uses Tony’s language and dialect to show his similarly plain and simple life in the country. Goldsmith incorporates malapropisms into Tony’s speech which shows his limited intellect. He frequently confuses ‘genius’ with ‘genus’, which creates a humorous irony since the very word he is using incorrectly, he has used to describe himself, shown through the personal pronoun ‘my genus.’ This creates comedy as well ...

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