When we discuss about the Anti-sentimental comedy, first we clear the idea
about, what is sentimental comedy?
This form becomes popular in 18th century. Sentimental comedy is related to our
emotions. It appeals especially to our feelings of sorrow, pity and compassionate
Richard Steele was pioneer of sentimental comedy and the best known
sentimental comedy is ‘The Conscious Lover’. In contrast ‘anti-sentimental’
comedy returns to comedy of manners.
What is Anti-sentimental comedy ?
An anti-sentimental comedy is also called “Comedy of Manners”. When Sentimental
comedy did not last long, that time anti-sentimental comedy was created by “Oliver
Goldsmith” and “Richard Sheridan”.
It is an artificial comedy, arose during 18th century. The dramatist of this period wrote
plays according to middle class family and their interest.
It is kind of comedy representing complex and sophisticated code of behaviour current in
fashionable circles of society, where appearance count for more than true moral
Its plot usually revolves around intrigues of lust and greed, the self-interested cynicism of
the characters being masked by decorous preteens.
Oliver Goldsmith’s “SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER” and Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s “THE
RIVALS”& “SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL “are the Anti-sentimental comedy.
Anti- Sentimental Comedy
Characteristic of Anti- Sentimental Comedy
Mrs. Hardcastle – Wife to Mr. Hardcastle and mother to Tony, Mrs. Hardcastle is a
corrupt and eccentric character.
She is an over-protective mother to Tony, whom she loves, but fails to tell him he's of age
so that he is eligible to receive £1,500 a year.
Her behaviour is either over-the-top or far-fetched, providing some of the play's comedy.
She is also partly selfish, wanting Constance to marry her son to keep the jewels in the
family; she's blissfully unaware however, that they despise each other, and that Constance
is in fact planning to flee to France with Hastings.
Mrs. Hardcastle is a contrast to her husband, which provides the humour in the play's
She loves the town, and is the only character who's not happy at the end of the play.
She stoops to conquer
Miss Kate Hardcastle –
Daughter to Mr. Hardcastle, and the play's stooping-to-conquer heroine.
Kate respects her father, dressing plainly in his presence to please him.
The formal and respectful relationship that she shares with her father, contrasts
with that between Tony and Mrs. Hardcastle.
Kate enjoys "French frippery" and the attributes of the town, much as her mother
She is both calculating and scheming, posing as a maid and deceiving Marlow,
causing him to fall in love with her.
Miss Constance Neville –
Niece of Mrs. Hardcastle, she is the woman whom Hastings intends to court.
Constance despises her cousin Tony, she is heir to a large fortune of jewels, hence her
aunt wants her to remain in the family and marry Tony; she is secretly an admirer of
George Hastings however.
Neville schemes with Hastings and Tony to get the jewels so she can then flee to France
with her admirer; this is essentially one of the sub-plots of She Stoops to Conquer.
Lydia Languish, Jack Absolute’s beloved, a
girl whose head is so stuffed with the
fantastic adventures of popular fictional
people that she cannot bear to marry
anyone in her own class.
She spurns Jack Absolute when she
learns that he is not the penniless Ensign
Beverley, but she is greatly impressed
when she learns that he is to fight a duel
because of her, and he wins her hand.
Mrs. Malaprop, Lydia’s aunt, whose
eccentric treatment of the English language
spawned the word “malapropism.”
She opposes Lydia’s intention to marry Jack,
but she drops her objections at last to bask
in the high spirits of those whose problems
have found happy solutions.
Desirable and wealthy young ward of Sir Peter Teazle.
She is a woman of principle who refuses to gossip.
Young wife of Sir Peter.
She and her husband have their little spats.
When he visits Joseph Surface one day,
he discovers his wife hiding behind a screen and
at first thinks she has been having an affair with Joseph,
whom he now brands as a villain.
Young widow of a knight. She
is attracted to Charles Surface
and plots with Joseph Surface
to break up Charles and