Consider in detail the final scene of "She stoops to conquer". How does it reconcile the comedy with the sentimental theme of redemption.

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Consider in detail the final scene of “She stoops to conquer”. How does it reconcile the comedy with the sentimental theme of redemption.

While the word redemption has many definitions, its link to Christianity and the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation leads to the pertinent definition in the context of the question. The word does have an association with sin or evil having been done which is not applicable in the case of “She stoops to conquer”, the characters cannot be accused of such serious actions, so in many ways it may be said that good nature of the characters is rewarded while those who ‘repent’ are forgiven and enjoy a ‘happy end’.

The final scene has many such ‘redemptions’, that of Marlow, Hastings, Tony and Constance Neville. Marlow shows the true depth of his character in the final scene and is granted redemption, while the good nature of Hastings (and to a certain extent Tony) and the patience of Miss Neville is rewarded also.

Naturally the final scene will be analysed in detail but as it is the conclusion of previous events, it is necessary to look at the previous Acts, important as they are in achieving understanding of how the characters achieved their redemption or reward.

As mentioned previously, in order to gain redemption it seems natural to assume that person has done wrong first. This is perhaps only really true of Marlow in “She stoops to conquer”. His faltering, stuttering address to Kate is one of many comedy moments centred around his ‘dual personality’. The gentlemanly Marlow is modest and reserved, unable to even meet Kate’s eye on their first meeting, yet when in the company of, as Miss Neville puts it, “creatures of another stamp” Marlow becomes very eloquent and smooth tongued, in many ways a sexual predator, while Kate in her barmaid guise is his prey. This concept of predator and prey is not followed for any great period as it would probably cause a lack of audience empathy for Marlow and his predicament. Though Marlow is portrayed as a silver-tongued lothario his methods of seduction are formulaically recited to Sir Charles and Mr Hardcastle by Kate in a manner which suggests his methods of womanising are quite lucid to her. “As most professed admirers do. (He) Said some civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of mine, mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech and ended with pretended rapture”. This matter of fact recitation of Marlow pouring his heart out shows an almost playful manipulative side to Kate, something which is substantiated later in the Act as the stage direction notes ‘they depart, she tormenting him’. It is the final act where Marlow redeems himself in both the eyes of Hardcastle, Kate and to a great extent, the reader. While Hardcastle thinks little of the previous discussions between him and Marlow, referring to the matter as a mere “trifle”, Marlow does seem very embarrassed. The question that may be posed, however, is whether he is truly sorry for his treatment of Hardcastle or if his pride is just hurt. Marlow endears himself to the reader when he tells Kate his true feelings for her. While once he told of the impossibility of an “honourable connexion” he seems sincere In his feelings for Kate and is thinking increasingly with his heart- “my very pride begins to submit to my passion”. Upon realisation of his mistakes Marlow is once again deeply embarrassed, no doubt increased by Kate’s merciless teasing. It may be said that Marlow achieves redemption as he gains a respectable wife who he can actually talk to, despite his obvious embarrassment at his many errors the events end happily for him.

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Mr Hardcastle is a very genuine and easy going character, it is his allowance of Kate to come to her own decision about Marlow which eventually results in his original desire of the two marrying. While the opening scene highlights his irritation with the actions of Tony, he is not spiteful, nor when he argues with his wife. Even with Marlow's disrespectful address to him throughout he quickly forgives and forgets on realising the reasons, indeed when Hastings enquires after Sir Charles a servant remarks “He and the old gentleman of the house have been laughing at Mr Marlow’s ...

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