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Henry Horatio Hobson is one of the principal characters of the play and his conflict with his daughters, particularly Maggie, provides the basis of the story line. Hobson is a 55-year-old middle-class tradesman who has quite a pompous and overbearing nature and the author, Harold Brighouse does very well to portray him in such a way that the reader instantly dislikes him. He is a ‘single parent’ since his wife’s death and although in a different situation this could have been seen as quite heroic, instead he is shown to be quite the opposite, in the way that he constantly reminds his daughters that he considers them to be uppish, and that they have,”grown bumptious at a time when they lack a mother’s hand.” Hobson is definitely portrayed as his daughters oppressor in the way that he describes the way that Alice and Vickey dress (who are avid followers of fashion) as immodest.
Hobson displays his apparent contempt for his eldest daughter Maggie, when after threatening to “wash his hands” of Alice and Vickey and choose them husbands who they can “exercise their gifts on” (referring to their “bumptious” behaviour), Maggie enquires whether she is to be found a husband and Hobson callously informs her that (at the age of 30), she is well past marring age and remarks when Maggie exclaims that she is only 30, “Aye, thirty and shelved”, finishing, “You’re a proper old maid Maggie if ever there was one .”
Later on in the play however, when he finds himself being prosecuted for trespassing and damaging stock when he gets drunk at his favourite pub the Moonrakers, and falls into a corn cellar he finds himself being grateful (and at the mercy of) Maggie when she uses her negotiating skills to get him out of trouble (of course Hobson is unaware that Maggie masterminded his entire prosecution!). Hobson is made comical in the way that he tries so often to assert his authority and is ignored by his headstrong daughters so much. Also, he is made to be found comical by the reader later in the play when he finds himself no longer the pillar of strength, standing for common sense and sincerity that he thought he was, but at the total mercy of his eldest daughter Maggie.
Maggie Hobson, also one of the principal characters of the play is made to be quite the heroine by Harold Brighouse in the way that using her intelligence, determination and shrewd nature that she opposes her pompous, overbearing father and makes a new life for herself and her two sisters. After her mother’s death Maggie seems to have found herself (being the eldest daughter) as a kind of mother figure towards her sisters and she takes care, almost single handedly of the running of her father’s boot shop where all three of Hobson’s daughters work. It is after a dispute with her father when he cruelly describes her as being “thirty and shelved” and remarking “You’re an old maid, Maggie if ever there was one”, that she seems determined to prove Hobson wrong.
Unfortunately for Hobson, Maggie who seems quite desperate chooses Will, a lowly bootmaker in Hobson’s show, and forces her to marry her. When Hobson finds out he threatens to “beat the love” out of Will (who at that stage did not even love Maggie, but was just afraid of her). Maggie goes on to marry Will and leaves Hobson’s shop to set up another boot shop with Will who is a very talented bootmaker. In this time, she has actually fallen in love with Will (and him with her), matched her sisters with their suitors and masterminded a plan to keep her father out of the way while all this happened, by getting Albert Prosser (Alice’s suitor and son of a lawyer) to draw up a document, prosecuting Hobson for trespassing and damaging stock when he falls into a corn cellar, when in a drunken stupor.
Although at first Maggie is portrayed as being bossy and quite the “ugly duckling” along side her two sisters, she showed herself to be much their superior in intelligence and wit, even if she was not in the looks department. Mrs. Hepworth Analysis Mrs. Hepworth is one of Hobson’s more distinguished customers, a wealthy elderly woman who visits the shop in Act One to compliment Will on his excellent workmanship on a pair of boots she purchased previously. Although Mrs Hepworth is not one of the principal characters of the play, her character is very useful in three ways.
Firstly, she succeeds in making a fool of Hobson, which increases the reader’s dislike of him, by making it easy to laugh at him. She does this when Hobson automatically assumes that she is visiting the shop to complain, and he grovels and metaphorically licks her boots (excuse the pun!). She dismisses Hobson’s fawning with a snobbish put down, leaving Hobson feeling very embarrassed in front of his daughters and a lowly worker who he considers himself better than.
Mrs. Hepworth’s character also introduces the reader to Will, a nervous and easily influenced young man, who goes on to become one of the principal characters of the play when he later marries Maggie. She also remarks that Will should inform her if he ever changed employers after giving him her card, to which Hobson exclaims that that would not happen and she then comments that it could happen and adds sharply that he is probably underpaid anyway, which soon quiets Hobson.
Although Mrs. Hepworth is quite a minor character in the play, without her introduction of Will, the reader would not be as well informed or accustomed to the mannerisms of his character and the ‘transition’ between the introductions of the different characters would be a lot less smooth and more abrupt and sudden, when he came in later. Also, her remark about him moving employers gives the reader an idea that this may occur later on in the play.