Maggie is the central character of the play “Hobson’s choice” and the many facets of her personality are revealed throughout the play. The first of Maggie’s qualities that become quite obvious to us at the beginning is her strong awareness of business and certain customers’ potentiality. In the shoe shop, Alice and Vickey are occupying themselves by reading and knitting. But we see Maggie keeping the accounts and making a sale. Albert Prosser, a young lawyer with a liking for Alice, enters. He comes to by a pair of bootlaces, his real intent on visiting his Alice, Maggie’s younger sister. Maggie does not let him leave without purchasing a pair of new boots. She sees that with his reasons for being there, Albert Prosser is in a very vulnerable situation. Therefore she manipulates him and creates the sale.
She tells him, “We’re not here to let people go without buying.” So here we see qualities of Maggie very early on. These become active further in the play also. Maggie and Alice are seen talking of courting. Alice believes as every other woman of her day that courting is to come before marriage. Whereas we see Maggie opposed to the idea. She believes that courting is a waste of time. Why dawdle and time waste by courting when the final intention is to be married. “If he wants to marry you, why doesn’t he do it?” From an early stage we can recognise her difference as a woman and her no- nonsense approach.
“See that slipper with a fancy buckle on to make it pretty? Courting is just like that, my lass. All glitter and no use to nobody.” She has a good business sense and is able to extract potential. These attributes are also apparent when Mrs Hepworth enters the shop to tell Willie that he has impressed her so much with his skills in boot making that he will make her shoes “in future”. Not only that but she shall “send her daughters there as well”. At once from this we can see Maggie’s mind working the thought of Mrs Hepworth’s business potentiality. She even offers Mrs Hepworth a new pair to push the trade. Mr Hobson, Maggie’s father makes remarks such as, “I wish some people would mind there own business.” and, “Last time she puts foot in my shop, I give you my word.”
Like Maggie, Hobson does not realise the value of Mrs Hepworth as a customer. Maggie dismisses his comment by saying, “Don’t be silly father”. There are some characteristics inherited by Maggie from her father. I feel that her view is the same when it comes to being the leader and important in a certain role. Maggie is not only in control of the shop and accounts but also of the household’s welfare and her father’s lifestyle. She reminds him that, “dinner is at one.” Here we see Hobson’s chauvinistic and old fashioned ways. “It’s one o’ clock dinner because I say it is, and not because you do.” Maggie is not weak enough to give into her father and keeps the time the same, but then again is smart enough to compromise the time, “Dinner at half-past one, girls. We’ll give him half an hour”. These are all important qualities.
Early on Hobson’s character is very discourteous in his manner towards Maggie and her age of marrying. In all the talk of Hobson disciplining his “bumptious” girls’ marriage comes into the conversation. Maggie asks, “I f your dealing husband’s round, don’t I get one?” He says that, “You’re a proper old maid, Maggie, if there ever was one.” We would expect Maggie or any other woman to be infuriated by this stereotypical statement, but she takes this only as another reason to wed Willie and make her life better. This is one of Maggie’s more important qualities throughout the play.
Maggie seems to be thinking of events that have taken place since the play began. While her father is away at the Moonraker’s public house, she takes time to speak with Willie that shoe maker. It may have seemed that Maggie was resigned to life as a spinster, running her father and his business. When she summons Willie, we see that maybe this action for the future had been an old idea expanding in her mind. However her direct approach, which can be seen as an attribute, works well to make Willie understand her intentions. To wed Willie a working class man is a very great and brave step from Maggie yet she is reassured that she is in the best interests of both of them.
She posses the very unique quality of self-confidence and faith in her self. Maggie throughout this scenario has had full confidence in herself and a sense of domineering character about her. “But I have. My brain and your hands ‘ull make a working partnership”. She is loyal and ambitious enough to try the wedding with Willie Mossop, as he says, “without there’s love between us, lass”. She knows that her plan is going to work. She expresses this immensely when she says, “When I make arrangements, my lad, they’re not made for upsetting”.
Her strength in character and her belief in her own ability to achieve what she wants are apparent when she eliminates the threat of Ada Figgins. Willie says he is, “tokened” and helpless” with Ada. Ada Figgins to her is of no actual threat. She makes remarks about Ada without knowing her. Her best interests are for Willie, or this is what we learn from her speech. She asks Ada of the future, and if Willie is goin to do well. Maggie is persistent and narrow minded. This is not a bad comment. It is actually a quality.
Maggie is not narrow minded enough not to take advice or be selfish, but to see her own future and what is best for others. So when she confronts Ada all se is doing is, “I want a word with you; you’re treading on my foot young lady.” The ‘proposal’ goes quite Maggie’s way. She succeeds in dismissing Ada and being engaged to Willie and convincing him that it would be best for him to marry and her and be her partner. He realises there is “no escape” after she tells him, “Willie Mossop, you take orders from me in this shop.