In the country, people are forced to confront their faults and lead a more honest way of life. Consider She Stoops to Conquer in the light of this comment. (40)
Traditionally the pastoral genre celebrates the virtues of simple, unsophisticated life removed from the city. The rural countryside hosts a nostalgic population longing for a bucolic paradise where people live in peace, harmony and honesty, similar to the existence of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the fall. This depiction of idyllic rural life is presented by Goldsmith in She Stoops to Conquer, however the deception of characters throughout the play can be seen to distort this view of traditional country life.
Goldsmith uses the character of Mr Hardcastle to epitomise the honest nature of country folk. Mr Hardcastle is presented as a traditional, old country squire, who is characterised as open and direct. He confesses honestly that he ‘loves everything that’s old’ and that he’s not interested in ‘vanity’. ‘Vanity’ suggests superficiality and that true character traits are omitted by ‘jewels’ and ‘ornaments’ in order to deceive those around and promote a dishonest appearance. Hardcastle associates this ‘vanity’ with the town, which is seen traditionally in pastoral literature as nefarious and corrupt compared to the simple, pragmatic country setting. It could be interpreted that Mr Hardcastle’s long life spent in the country, shown through use of the name ‘squire’ which has connotations of a rural existence, has resulted in his genuine personality, ‘to be plain with you.’ However, Goldsmith uses asides in Hardcastle’s speech to show his anguish over the impudence of ‘such a brazen dog’, Marlow. The asides present Hardcastle’s true feelings of disgust towards the town folk which contrasts his direct speech to Marlow which remains dignified and respectful, shown through the address of ‘sir’. These asides present Hardcastle as a less direct character than originally perceived, suggesting country dwellers can be just as malicious as those from the town and subsequently, a country existence doesn’t necessarily equate to an honest way of life. Despite this, it is the rudeness of Marlow and Hastings which arouses these feelings in Hardcastle through curt demands for ‘warm punch’. This reflects a primary theme in the pastoral genre of the town corrupting the country, since Hardcastle is cordial towards his servants as Goldsmith refers to each by their first name in Hardcastle’s speech, ‘Diggory’, and Hardcastle’s rude asides are presented to be spawned from the impudence of the town characters, thus suggesting that the country promotes courteous manners meanwhile the town corrupts and faults characters.