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Hobson’s Choice Coursework- How does Will, with Maggie’s help, develop into the most confident character in the play? Hobson’s Choice, a play by Harold Brighouse is set in the 1800s, in the Victorian era. The main characters, the Hobsons, portray the typical Victorian family, where the male is the head figure of the family home. The head figure of this particular family is Henry Hobson, father of three daughters: Alice (23), Vickey (21) and Maggie (30).
Hobson’s character is a drunken old fellow who strongly believes that women should be seen and not heard. The three daughters, especially Maggie, are quite tired of being treated this way and decide they want to marry. The play mainly focuses of Maggie’s marriage to William Mossop, a boot hand in her father’s shop that the daughters themselves run. The plot is spread around about a year, during which time many changes can take place. In this case, I am going to discuss how Will changes over that year and develops, with Maggie’s help, into the most confident character in the play.
Act One is set in the Hobson’s shoe shop. Albert Prosser, who has come to see Alice, enters the shop to be greeted by disappointment when Alice tells him that Hobson has not yet left the house. He moves to leave but this is when Maggie stops him and we get to know a bit more about her personality. Maggie is quite pushy (“And now you’ll have boots to go with the laces, Mr. Prosser.” (Pushing him) “Sit down, Mr. Prosser”) in the way she says “And now you’ll” rather than “Would you also like”, signifying that this is an order, not a question. Her pushiness is well known among the other characters and this especially irritates Alice, who says “Maggie, we know you’re a pushing sales-woman but-“, but Maggie is a no-nonsense type of character and interrupts her mid-sentence. In fact, she tends to do this a lot throughout the play.
Maggie is polite but firm when she says “It’s not wasted. These boots will last. Good morning, Mr. Prosser.” (She holds door open) as if that’s final and she’s had the last word. She’s also quite opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind; this is demonstrated here when she is talking about Albert Prosser: “I’m sick of the sight of him.” (She says this even though it is her sister’s future husband). Maggie insists on getting the last word every time. An example of this is when she and her father are discussing dinner arrangements: HOBSON: “Dinner will be when I come for it. I’m master here.” MAGGIE: “Yes father. One o’ clock.”
After Hobson exits the scene, Maggie is left alone with an opportunity to talk to Will Mossop. She calls him up from his trap. He comes “half-way up” and “reluctantly” which suggests he is scared of her and quite nervous to be addressed individually. He thinks he’s in trouble. Will is a very apprehensive at this stage of the play, which is why when Maggie asks him to hold out his hands he does so “hesitatingly”.
Maggie admires Will’s talents by saying “You’re a natural born genius at making boots”, to which she adds: “It’s a pity you’re a natural born fool at all else.” He agrees with this statement, showing the lack of confidence in himself: “I’m not much good at owt but leather and that’s a fact.” When Maggie suggests that Will moves on from Hobson’s, such as setting up his own business, he interprets this wrongly and seems to think he is about to lose his job: “Leave Hobson’s? I-I thought I gave satisfaction”. This is shown here with the use of the hyphen character to represent stuttering.
Maggie then asks what keeps Will at Hobson’s: “Is it the – the people?” The audience can clearly see what she’s trying to say is “Is it me that makes you stay here?” but doesn’t want to make it too obvious what she’s getting at. Of course she needn’t have wasted her efforts, as Will has no clue whatsoever! Later in the conversation, Maggie claims she and Will are “a pair”. He is completely, utterly clueless as to where she is going with this so when she says “It seems to me to only point one way”, he stupidly replies “What way is that?” Maggie then says, “You’re leaving me to do all the work, my lad” at which point comprehension finally seems to dawn upon Will as he nervously says, “I’ll be getting back to my stool, Miss Maggie”.
Here Maggie’s firmness kicks in again and she is having nothing of the sort: (stopping him) “You’ll go back when I’ve done with you.” She hints again to Will: “I’ve been watching you for a long time and everything I’ve seen, I’ve liked. I think you’ll do for me” but he finds this unbelievable and decides to “play dumb” in the hope that she doesn’t mean what he thinks she means: “What way, Miss Maggie?” What Will fears, Maggie says: “Will Mossop, you’re my man. Six months I’ve counted on you and it’s got to come out sometime” meaning she’s wanted wed him for a long while now.