Mistakes Of The Night Essay, Research Paper
THE MISTAKES OF A NIGHT Oliver Goldsmith, born the son of an Anglo-Irish clergyman, established himself during his brief career as an essayist, poet and dramatist with great comic insight into the social mores of Georgian England. His dramatic triumph She Stoops to Conquer (1773), is a dramatic irony, that is a play of manners. Rather than referring to the play as She Stoops to Conquer, one can make a case that The Mistakes of a Night may be a more fitting title. While not the central figure of the play, Tony s actions set into motion the chain of events that turn the Hardcastle household into an arena of confusion and disorder, and lead Young Marlow to believe he will be staying at an inn, rather than the household of his father s friend. The scene of the first mistake is at an alehouse where Tony is drinking with his friends. Suddenly Marlow and Hastings arrive inquiring about the residence of Mr. Hardcastle. The landlord informs Tony of this and Tony then realizes that one of them has come down to court his sister. Schemes of revenge now lay on the mind of Tony. Tony states, “Father-in-law has been calling me whelp, and hound, this half year. Now, if I pleased, I could be so revenged upon the old grumbletonian” (I, 8). This is a good example of Tony contemplating revenge. After insisting to Marlow and Hastings that they will not be able to reach Mr. Hardcastle s in the night, Tony states, “If you go on a mile further, to the Buck s Head; the old Buck s Head on the hill, one of the best inns of the whole country” (I, 9). Tony s revenge is now in order. He has sent Marlow and Hastings to Mr. Hardcastle s, but they think that they are traveling to an inn. Tony s claim can be believed because the mansion of the Hardcastle s is old, and they have a Buck s Head above the front door. In the time of this play, each individual inn had a different theme. Tony uses this idea to his advantage when he refers to the inn as the old Buck s Head on the hill. This action now lays the grounds to all the mistakes that Marlow will make with the Hardcastle s. Because of Tony s trick, Marlow is going to stay at Mr. Hardcastle s believing it to be an inn, which in turn causes him to act rudely to Mr. Hardcastle himself, thus leading to several other mistakes that will later be developed in Oliver Goldsmith s play. As soon as Marlow and Hastings reach the mansion, Mr. Hardcastle realizes who they are, but Marlow and Hastings do not realize that the innkeeper is actually Mr. Hardcastle. Marlow and Hastings believe Mr. Hardcastle to be a common innkeeper, and they treat him accordingly. While Hardcastle is relating his story about the Duke of Marlborough, Marlow and Hastings carry on their own conversation about what to wear. After they discuss this, Marlow interrupts Hardcastle once again by requesting punch. Hardcastle comments upon Marlow s insolence by stating, “This is the most unaccountable kind of modesty I ever met with” (II, 15). Hardcastle is further infuriated after Marlow inquires about supper. Hardcastle proclaims, “Was ever such a request to a man in his own house!” (II, 16). In the quotes listed, Hardcastle is commenting upon the rude actions and comments of Marlow and Hastings. He simply cannot understand the actions of a man who is being considered for the courtship of his daughter. Hardcastle knew of Marlow s modesty, but he is confused by what he thinks is modern modesty. Throughout the rest of the play, Hardcastle will continue referring to the insolence that Marlow and Hastings display, while Marlow continually comments upon the insolence of the innkeeper. Once again Marlow does not realize that this is actually Mr. Hardcastle. Hasting s realizes his Mistake when Miss Neville states, “An inn! sure you mistake! my aunt, my guardian, lives here” (II, 18). Hasting s and Miss Neville come to the conclusion that Tony is up to His old tricks again. Hastings however convinces Miss Neville to keep this information a secret from Marlow when he states, “In the meantime, my friend Marlow must not be let into his mistake. I know the strange reserve of his temper is such, that if abruptly informed of it, he would instantly quit the house before our plan was ripe for execution”
(II, 19). Hastings convinces Miss Neville that if Marlow uncovers his mistake, he will instantly leave. This will ruin Hasting s plans of running away with Miss Neville. The third mistake of the night can be that Marlow fell for what he believed to be the barmaid, who was really Miss Hardcastle in disguise. She wants to reach Marlow on a different level. Miss. Hardcastle knows that Marlow is able to converse with only the wildest of the opposite sex. He becomes nervous and tongue-tied when conversing with women high in rank. Miss Hardcastle then believes she can reach him on a lower level. The maid says, “But what is more, madam, the young gentleman as you passed by in your present dress, asked me if you were the barmaid? He mistook you for the barmaid, madam!” (III, 32). After Miss Hardcastle heard what the maid had to say, she knew that her plan had a chance to work. Marlow had not looked up into Miss Hardcastle s face during their interview, so she could finally get Marlow to converse with her by pretending to be the barmaid. Miss Hardcastle states, “Then I shall make an aquaintance, and that is no small victory gained over one who never addresses any but the wildest of her sex” (III, 33). Miss Hardcastle expresses her reasoning in this speech. She first wants to get to know him better before she decides whether or not to chase him. Miss Hardcastle s approach works, and she really starts to adore Marlow. All the while, Marlow believes that he is really conversing with a barmaid, rather than Miss Hardcastle. Marlow is heavily flirtatious with whom he believed to be the barmaid. Marlow states, “Suppose I should call for a taste, just by way of trial, of the nectar of your lips; perhaps I might be disappointed in that, too! (III, 34). This quote shows how he can be so forward a and open with women of lower rank, while on the other hand, he can be at such a loss for words with women of the upper class. The fourth mistake involves Mrs. Hardcastle; who believed that Tony had led her far away from home, when he has actually taken her about the house a number of times. Tony is leading her to Miss. Neville s old aunt Pedigree s home. This is due to the fact that Miss Neville had been plotting to run away with Hastings, and their plan was foiled when Mrs. Hardcastle discovered a note from Hastings, that urged Miss. Neville to meet him at the bottom of the garden so that they could leave. Therefore, Mrs. Hardcastle is tricked into believing that they are 40 miles in the direction of old aunt Pedigree s home. Mrs. Hardcastle states, “I wish we were at home again. I never met so many accidents in so short a journey. Drenched in the mud, overturned in a ditch, stuck fast in a slough, jolted to a jelly, and at last to lose our way! Whereabouts do you think we are, Tony?” (V, 53).Tony replies, “By my guess we should be upon Crack-skull Common, about forty miles away from home” (V, 53). Mrs. Hardcastle honestly believed that she was far from home. Tony, knew that they were actually at the bottom of their garden. Tony had tricked his mother so that Hastings, who was also waiting in the bottom of the garden, could rescue Miss Neville and run away with her. This will enable Tony to be free of Miss. Neville, who his mother had tried to repeatedly pair up together. The final mistake of the night was when Tony finally found out that he was of age. After putting many tricks on other people, he finally had a trick that was played on him. His mother and stepfather had kept the fact that Tony was of age to themselves. This is due to the fact that once Tony was of age, he would finally be able to refuse Miss. Neville formally. Therefore, his mother wanted to keep his age away from him. Mr. Hardcastle states, “While I thought concealing your age, boy, was likely to conduce your improvement, I concurred with your mother s desire to keep it secret. But since I find she turns it to a wrong use, I must now declare, you have been of age these three months” (V, 59). Tony then officially refuses Miss Neville, and Mrs. Hardcastle states, “My undutiful offspring!” (V, 59). Tony is now able to receive his fifteen hundred a year, and Miss. Neville is free to marry Hastings. Mr. Hardcastle proclaims, “And Mr. Marlow, if she makes as good a wife as she has a daughter, I don t believe you ll ever repent your bargain. So now to supper, tomorrow we shall gather all the poor of the parish about us, and the Mistakes of the Night shall be crowned with a merry morning” (V, 60). Finally, it is the belief of this author that The Mistakes of a Night is a more fitting title to the play. Also, while not the central figure of the play, Tony sets the example of a catalyst, he sets into motion the chain of events that convinces Marlow that he will be staying at an inn, rather than the house of Mr. Hardcastle, and all the mistakes that lead from that.