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The Beaux Stratagem

Decent Essays
Identity Crises: The Inequality of Women in The Beaux Stratagem and She Stoops to Conquer
Plays during the Restoration period often contained characters dressed up in disguise as a way to create conflict and to manipulate the plot. Conversely, the “false identities” in which these characters adopt, help readers learn about social hierarchy. Specifically, characters like Archer and Aimwell from George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem and Kate Hardcastle from Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer illustrate that when their personalities change, that the social situation changes. Additionally, all of these characters subversively modify their identities to manipulate social standards and hierarchy in order to exploit people. However, Kate Hardcastle
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Additionally, Kate uses the word “sentiment,” which is italicized to emphasize importance. Sentimental plays during the Restoration period emerged as a way counter the vulgarity, wit, and profane humor, and as a way to highlight the importance of social etiquette. Therefore, Kate’s mannerism is product of her social status; women had to display the highest standards in mannerism’s to attract men with high social status, in which this displays inequality of women during that time because this limits what women could do and act.
In Act III, scene i, Kate changes her identity. On line 250, the maid says, “he mistook you for the barmaid, madam” (Goldsmith 905), and then Kate replies “Did he? Then as I live, I’m resolved to keep up the delusion” (Goldsmith 905). This excerpt symbolizes that Kate will “keep up” her modified identity whenever she encounters Marlow. The reason why Kate altered her identity is evident later on the passage. On line 272, Kate announces “But my chief aim is to take my gentlemen off his guard and, like an invisible champion of romance, examine the giants force before I offer* to combat” (Goldsmith 906). The words “gentlemen off his guard” enlightens that Kate ultimately wants to discover more information about Marlow before she invests her time into a lifetime commitment of marriage. This is also a statement on the social standards because this demonstrates that
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However, these inequalities are accented when other characters transform their personalities: Firstly, there is Kate. Nevertheless, as soon as she transforms herself to a lower-class barmaid, Marlow tries to take sexual advantage of her. This shows us that women from the lower classes were viewed as purely sexual, and not marriage material. Secondly, there is Dorinda, who is an heiress, and is economically objectified by Aimewell who alters his identity to seduce women, like Dorinda. Dorinda’s situation signifies inequality in women because even though Dorinda knows that Aimwell lied to her, she sacrifices her power and become the property of Aimwell via marriage all for social status. This represents the weakness that women from the upper-class exhibited. Both examples are important is studying literature from the Restoration period because both examples provide clues to the inequalities and exploitations that women went
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