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The play ‘Hobson’s Choice’ was written by Harold Brighouse in modern society but set in the Victorian times. It was written to reflect the social roles and values of its time. Social roles are duties, position, responsibilities or tasks that are expected of an individual by the public or a group of people while values are standards or principles considered important in life. Social roles and values was more of a belief and an integral part of the Victorian society and culture, therefore Brighouse understood the importance of social roles and value during this time and therefore exploits this principle and idea by creating characters that juxtapose the conventional customs and as a result comedy is produced.
During the Victorian times, men were more favoured in every area of life because they were treated with more respect and honour compared to women. Also, status and class was very important during the Victorian times because it was believed that status was a ‘thing of inheritance’ and once you are born with it, you are destined to die with it and for this reason, the higher class never associated with the lower class and the lower class was bound to do the same; the lower class related to their own type.
The playwright of ‘Hobson’s Choice’ – Harold Brighouse understood the importance of the social roles and values of the Victorians and consequently creates characters that juxtapose the whole idea and concept of the Victorian Era. Hobson’s Choice reflects the social roles and values of the time through the characters reference to Status and gender. Maggie, Willie and Hobson are the three main characters the audience are focused on; these characters are presented in different ways and indifferent circumstances.
Status is one of the most important aspects of the play ‘Hobson’s choice’ because the play was written in the Victorian Era and status was regarded to bring either honour or dishonour to a person. The audience of the play are clearly informed about the status of each character before they go on stage. Harold Brighouse did this because the status of a person in that time determines almost every aspect of their character including jobs, dressing, language, and perspective to life, attitudes and behaviours to other characters.
The audience are introduced to Hobson’s shop with “exhibits of boots and slippers, filled with rack containing boot boxes” “chairs in the shop, which is dingy but business like”. This presents the character of Hobson as a self-employed, middle-classed man with authority and power. However, as the scene opens, the audience realise that Hobson had been to the “Moonrakers” – local pub and has returned home late and drunk therefore not ready for the next business day.
Also a ‘Moon’ could signify an outstanding property like a person’s wealth, destiny or life and while a ‘rake’ is something or someone who collect important valuables and therefore, ‘Moonrakers’ could signify a place that is dedicated to the collect or take over a person’s dignity, wealth, intellect and pride as it did from Hobson when he lost his self-image and pride to alcohol.