In 1916, life was very different to how it is today. Status was a very important thing and people were very conscious of the reputation of their family name. The classes were very divided. For example, the people in lower class were treated with very little respect, however people in upper class were given respect by all classes. ‘Hobson’s Choice’ is a comedy based around the battle of wills between Hobson, a hard-headed, domineering cobbler and his daughter Maggie, who defies him by marrying his most talented but timid and downtrodden worker, Will Mossop.
She helps Will to develop his potential and together they turn the tables on Hobson himself. At the beginning of the play, we see that Hobson does not treat Will with a lot of respect and the difference between their classes is made very obvious. The way all of Hobson’s workers are treated is of a very low standard. ‘ In the centre of the stage is a trap leading to the cellar where work is done. ‘ This is where Will and all the other workers work, nobody ever goes down this trap, workers are always called up from it which signifies how little they are thought of.
The change in Will’s treatment changes when working class customer Mrs Hepworth recognises Will’s talent for making the best shoes around. She compliments him, which he is obviously very unused to, and very surprised that she is so satisfied with his work. Hobson is very taken aback by this and tries to take all responsibility for Will’s work. ‘ I am responsible for all work turned out here. ‘ Here is where we start to see Maggie take an interest in Will. ‘ I suppose he deserved it.
‘ Here is also where we start to see Hobson develop some form of jealousy of Will’s compliment. ‘Deserved be blowed! Making them uppish. ‘ Hobson is very proud of his reputation and does not want anything to jeopardise that. ‘I’m a decent minded man. I’m Hobson. I’m British middle class and proud of it. ‘ Maggie is the oldest oh Hobson’s three daughters and the most independent. A conversation develops between the four of them about marriage and Hobson seems to find the prospect of Maggie with a husband a hilarious thing.
‘Well that’s a good one! (Laughs) you with a husband! ‘ She however seems to take this quite personally and sets out to prove Hobson wrong by finding herself her own husband. She takes an interest in Willie. She tells Willie that she would like to marry him and open there own business together. Willie is very surprised by this, ‘Partnership! Oh that’s a different thing. I thought you were axing me to wed you. ‘ ‘I am. ‘ Willie does not seem completely happy with the idea of marrying Maggie, but soon finds it more appealing and becomes willing.
Hobson is very unhappy with this idea. When he finds out about the arrangement, he insists on beating Willie with a belt, however Willie with his new found confidence stands up to Hobson which takes him by great surprise and also makes Maggie very proud. ‘Willie! I knew you had it in you lad! ‘ Maggie’s sisters also seem very unenthusiastic about her engagement to Will. Maggie seems very proud of her engagement to Will, she makes it clear to her father that Will is in charge, ‘ I’ll have to ask the master about that.
‘ He still seems very uncomfortable with the situation but seems to realise that there is nothing that he can do to stop it. At the wedding, Hobson eats a piece of the wedding cake, which symbolises that he has accepted their marriage. Willie becomes a much stronger character throughout the play. Maggie insists that her family accepts him, she makes her sister’s kiss him and her father give him respect when he talks to Will.
At the beginning of the play, we see Will as a shy character, but throughout the book we see him grow into a stronger and more confident character. Maggie is of great help to him becoming a more confidant person and helps him to stand up to her father. We would assume that most of the audience would have been middle class at this time, so they would have been able to relate to the situation of the play and would be able to understand Hobson’s reaction and the changes that take place in the characters personalities.
I think that they would have enjoyed it, although it is an unusual situation, at this time I think the audience would have found it quite entertaining and humorous. It may have even made people become less bothered about the difference in class, and that their status is not the most important thing and should not be chosen over happiness. I think that the audience would have found the development of Willie Mossop interesting, I think this because it shows how people of a lower class, if given the chance can become just as well respected as one of the middle of higher class.
There is a very noticeable change in Willie’s personality, for example we see at the beginning of the book that he is unable to read and his speech is also of a poor standard, however by the end of the book it has improved immensely. ‘I dare say. But you’ll not speak as well as he did. ‘ They are taken by surprise when he speaks so well, and although they do find it hard to accept Will into the family as he was originally of working class, we can see by the end of the play that they do start to accept him more.
At the beginning of play because he is treated do badly, I think that the audience will feel sorry for him but as he develops in to a strong character then they will start to respect him and accept him more just like the other members of the Hobson family. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harold Brighouse section.