Both Mr. Hardcastle and Kate seem confused with their experiences with Marlow. Mr. Hardcastle proclaims him to be an impudent fellow, while Kate voices her utter disappointment on his lack of liveliness. Kate eventually requests her father to give her an opportunity of revealing the true nature of Marlow.
Accordingly, when she appears in a plain dress and is taken for a barmaid by Marlow, the latter not only engages in a fun filled repertoire with her but even tries to embrace her. And Mr. Hardcastle, having observed all these, agrees to let Kate have the night to prove how he’s both respectful and enjoying. Meanwhile, Tony’s plan to steal the jewels is not known by Constance, who in turn continually begs Mrs. Hardcastle for them. Tony tells his mother to pretend that the fortune has been stolen so as to deter Constance and Mrs. Hardcastle does so, till she realises that they are actually missing.
The plot becomes more complicated in Act 3, and it is solely Goldsmith’s skilled craftsmanship, his use of dramatic irony, for which the happenings, though perplexing, seem natural and acceptable. Thus the various events – Tony’s stealing the jewels and pressing his mother to lie that they are lost and later Mrs. Hardcastle’s mortifying discovery – serve in making the play more amusing. Nonetheless, two important themes are also explored dexterously; the unsettling dilemma faced by both Mr. Hardcastle and Kate regarding Marlow’s ambiguous nature and Kate’s “stooping” to clear it..
The expected arrival of Mr. Charles Marlow creates new problems for Constance and Hastings, for their affair is to be exposed along with the estimation of whether Marlow and Kate are to marry.
Now, the jewels that Hastings send through a servant to Marlow for safekeeping are erroneously given by Marlow to Mrs. Hardcastle, thereby prompting Hastings to plan a speedy elopement with Constance. Mr. Hardcastle meanwhile, being thoroughly offended with Marlow’s rudeness, orders him to leave; an attitude that finally makes Marlow wonder that perhaps something is wrong. His misconceptions are corrected by Kate, who emerging again as a barmaid, informs him that it is Mr. Hardcastle’s house and she is a poor relation. Marlow, though claims of beginning to feel for her genuinely, takes her leave for not wishing to get entwined in such a poor relation. Mrs. Hardcastle, in the meantime, intercepts a letter that Hastings has written to Neville, informing the latter to wait for him in the garden. Infuriated with this new, unexpected development, she plans to take Neville with her. The act finally ends with a heated confrontation involving Marlow, Hastings, and Tony, in which Tony ultimately offers to solve all Hastings’s problems.
All unexpected things occur in Act 4; Marlow is not at all interested in Kate and Constance’s elopement with Hastings is also unsure. This act also critically points at aristocratic hypocrisy through Marlow’s unwillingness in accepting plainly attired Kate, though he unflinchingly declares that he is ready to pay for her honour. Tony’s helping attitude is hinted as he offers to assist Hastings in recovering the jewels.
EVALUATION : Who is Tony Lumpkin?
ASSIGNMENT : Explain how Miss Kate Hardcastle’s personality stands as the way of life Goldsmith most recommends.