In Hobson's Choice

Maggie: I am. Willie however has other ideas. He does not want to marry Maggie; he disagrees with her and thinks that they would not be happy, as he does not love her. He tells her that she is a “shapely body” and a brilliant sales clerk but as a couple, they would not get far in life without love. Maggie is very strong willed about her idea and no matter what excuse Willie comes up with; Maggie is set on marrying him and leaving her fathers shop.

Willie tells Maggie that he is “tokened” to a girl called Ada Figgins, a helpless girl with whose mother he lodges.

Willie is a caring man who is willing to protect Ada, a woman with whom he will have no real future other than what he does now. Maggie however is determined to marry Willie so that he can do well in life. When Maggie finds out that Willie is set to marry Ada Figgins, who is due to arrive at the shop soon with Willie’s dinner, Maggie is determined to talk to her when she arrives and persuade her or force her not to marry Willie.

Willie feels he should protect Ada and he would rather be with her than Maggie. Maggie is ambitious but Willie does not think of himself in that way.

Ada arrives at the shop and Maggie immediately confronts her. “Maggie: I want a word with you. You’re treading on my foot, young woman. Ada: Me, Miss Hobson? (She looks stupidly at Maggie’s feet)” Maggie realises that Ada Figgins is a poor-spirited and meek woman and Maggie takes full advantage of this.

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She stands over her and demands to know what is happening between Willie and her. Ada is not very intelligent and she does not realise what Maggie is trying to make clear. Willie tries to intervene on one occasion; to tell Ada that he is against Maggie’s idea, but is immediately shot down by Maggie.

“Willie: Ada, she- Maggie: You hold you hush. This is for me and her to settle… ” Willie is trying to speak to Ada to explain that he is not to blame in any way for what Maggie is proposing. Maggie has full control over who speaks, what is said in the discussion, and as she disallows Willie to speak, and Willie obeys her. Afterwards Willie only speaks when he is spoken to and throughout the discussion Maggie is in control of who speaks and what is said. Willie tries to tell Ada that he is against Maggie’s idea.

Willie is stopped speaking by Maggie and when Ada continues to argue, Maggie ends the discussion by asking her what idea she has of Willie’s future. Ada chooses to let Willie make up his own judgement to which Maggie tells Willie he is to wed her and not Ada. Willie expects Ada to stop this happening, asking her to “fight for him”. Ada can only weakly complain, while Maggie continues to ignore all other opinions. Willie is again avoiding an argument, asking Ada to stop Maggie, although the audience can clearly see that both Ada and Willie feel threatened by Maggie’s assertiveness and stubborn attitude.

“Ada: (weakly) It’s daylight robbery. Willie: Aren’t you going to put up a better fight for me than that, Ada? You’re fair giving me to her. Maggie: Will Mossop, you take orders from me in this shop. I’ve told you, you’ll wed me. ” Both Ada and Willie dare not argue with Maggie. Maggie knows that Willie does not want to marry her and the way that Maggie forces him into marrying her, lets the audience see that Willie is not a strong willed man, he is submissive towards Maggie and expects Ada to argue on his behalf. When Maggie informs her father of her marriage decision and Hobson is furious.

Maggie demands that she is paid a wage and that Willie is employed at the same wage. Maggie and Willie want to be treated as if they are no relation to Hobson, just employees. “Maggie: I’ll work eight hours a day in future and you will pay me fifteen shillings by the week…. if Willie goes, I go… I’m a value to you, and so’s my man” Maggie wants to be employed by Hobson so she is no longer employing Willie. It makes them equal as a couple and neither will be superior or inferior as far as class is concerned. Her cheek to him angers Hobson and he calls for Willie to come up from the cellar, unbuckling his belt.

Willie comes up out of the trap as Hobson conceals the strap whilst he talks to Willie. Hobson claims that he must beat the love out of Willie’s body, and Willie tries to explain that the love cannot be beaten out of his body, as there is none there. Hobson promises Willie that he will beat him upon entering work every morning until he does not love Maggie. The audience sees Willie answering Hobson honestly and with respect until Hobson strikes Willie. Here we see a dramatic change as Willie’s temper flares. “Willie: I’m none wanting thy Maggie…

but if you touch me with that belt I’ll take her quick, aye and stick to her like glue. Hobson: There’s nobbut one answer to that kind of talk (He strikes with belt) Willie: And I’ve nobbut one answer back. Maggie I’ve none kissed you yet… but, by gum, I’ll kiss you now… and if Mr Hobson raises up that strap again I’ll do more. I’ll walk straight out of shop with thee… ” Here we see a dramatic change in Willie’s character. He is standing up to Hobson and not waiting for Maggie to tell him what to do. Even though Hobson attacks him verbally and physically, Willie does not lose his nerve.

Hobson’s anger and threats fuel Willie’s courage. Brighouse has shown that Willie has already begun to change with the support of Maggie. With Maggie backing him, he feels more courageous and he stands up for himself instead of letting Hobson be the master. Act Two Maggie returns to Hobson’s in Chapel Street to visit her sisters, Vickey and Alice, and arrange for her own wedding day. Maggie plans to help her sisters also get married and Vickey comments on how Maggie has made it more difficult for herself and Alice to find a suitable husband. “Vickey: You haven’t made it any easier for you, you know.

Willie: It wasn’t my fault, Miss Vickey, really it wasn’t. Maggie: You call her Vickey, Will. ” Vickey protests to Willie being authorized to call her by her Christian name, and Maggie tries to point out to her that although Willie was once a boot hand employed by Hobson, he is now his own master with his own business and Vickey should accept him as one of the family. Brighouse brings up this point to show that marrying Maggie has changed him because of her influence onto him and also because he is now part of a family, and he is beginning to be accepted in this family.

From the last time the audience saw him in the boot shop, Willie has changed from a shy, “rabbit” around Maggie and her sisters, to someone who is beginning to talk to Hobson’s daughters easily. Although he still obeys Maggie, he has begun to speak at times other than when he is requested to speak. Willie does not think it right to call Maggie’s sister Vickey and not Miss Vickey and he tells Maggie to leave it when she tells Vickey that Willie is theoretically higher in society than both Vickey and Alice.

Willie modesty denies the fact and tells Maggie’s sisters that he may have his name written in the windows but he does not know about being his own master. Willie is a modest and considerate man. Maggie’s words to her sisters could have been taken, as cutting remarks and Willie is trying not to upset Vickey and Alice by making them feel inferior to a man who was once their inferior. Maggie proudly presents Willie’s business card, and reads it out to her sisters. She then tells her sisters in a commanding way to kiss Willie, beginning with Vickey who takes a bit of convincing.

“Maggie: That’s his business card: William Mossop, Practical Boot and Shoe Maker, 39a Oldfield Road, Salford… I’ll do more than let you call him in his name. You can both of you kiss him for your brother-in-law to be. Willie: Nay, Maggie, I’m no great hand at kissing. Maggie: I’m waiting, Vickey. Willie: I don’t see that you ought to drive her to it Maggie. Brighouse has written the play with Maggie showing her sisters the card, mainly to let the audience see how proud she is of the new business beginning to take shape. Maggie is probably proud because she has done all the work to set the business up.

She will have scheduled to have the business cards made and she arranged the loan from Mrs Hepworth. At the first idea of kissing Alice and Vickey Willie is not too keen. He makes an excuse by saying that cannot kiss very well, and Maggie dryly agrees with him. Although Willie is beginning to change, he still obeys Maggie, and as Vickey stated, Maggie always gets her way when she tells someone to do something. Maggie is a very strong person and some of this strength is beginning to wear off onto Willie, his confidence is growing and his personality is starting to become apparent, but Maggie still has the power to control his actions.

Willie weakly protests, as he did when Maggie proposed, in a pleading way, as if hoping Maggie will just tire of the idea. He does not try to stop anything happening himself or physically, he attempts change Maggie’s opinion on her idea to stop things. Although Maggie’s sisters do not want to kiss Willie and Willie is just as unconcerned, they kiss him and Maggie is satisfied. After the girls kiss Willie his opinion changes from earlier and he enjoys be kissed by the two girls. “Vickey kisses Will, who finds he rather likes it… Willie: There’s more in kissing nice young women than I thought.

” Brighouse has made Willie a very innocent character, which may imply that, although he said he was in love with Ada, and she with him, may not have had a physical relationship with her or anyone else, as he is new to kissing. He was nervous before but after kissing both, he realises that he likes it. Brighouse could have written this as a hidden meaning to describe how when Willie follows Maggie’s advice he is introduced to new and better things. Maggie is showing him what the world outside of the boot shop is like and trying to introduce him to middle class.

Maggie comes to the boot shop to pick up some old furniture, which is broken slightly, from the attic, so that Willie can repair it and they can use it in the house. Willie is about to be married and has had time to get accustomed to the idea, but is still respectful and shy towards Maggie. “Maggie: Get upstairs, Will. I told you what to bring. Alice: Wait a bit. Maggie: Go on. Willie goes into the house… Maggie: Put the chairs on the hand-cart, Will. Willie goes out to street. ” Maggie speaks to Willie in a calm yet commanding tone, she does not ask him to do things, and she tells him to get on with it but without raising her voice.

Alice tells Willie to wait a while, but it is Maggie’s order that he obeys. Willie respects Maggie and will do anything for her without an argument. Maggie is in control of the situation at all times. Brighouse has left some of Willie’s stark characteristics that would be expected by the audience to remain, for example, the way he obeys Maggie, the way he used to when she employed him. Although he is about to become her husband, he is so accustomed to being told what to do by Maggie that he still acts as though she is the employer and he the worker.

Willie and Maggie discuss their wedding before they leave for the church and Willie becomes determined that he is ready for this marriage. His newfound self-determination shows through and he speaks confidently to Maggie. “Willie: … it’s taking summat on to go to church with a wench, and the lord knows what. Maggie: … parson’ going to ask you will you have me and you’ll either answer truthfully or not at all… Willie: I’ll tell him “yes”. Yes, Maggie. I’m resigned. You’re growing on me lass. I’ll toe the line with you”

Willie is now sure of himself that he is ready for this wedding and he has made up his mind that he wants to marry Maggie, the answer he gives the parson will be the truth. He has realised that Maggie has already changed his life for the better and he knows that she was correct in thinking that they would make a successful partnership in marriage and business. Brighouse has chosen to have Maggie give Willie an escape route by saying that if he was not sure he did not have to go through with it, this shows that Willie has changed enough to make up his own mind without Maggie telling him what to do.

Act Three After the wedding ceremony, Willie stands to make a speech, thanking his guests for attending the wedding. The stage direction tells the audience that he “rises, nervously, and rushes his little speech like a child who has learnt a lesson”. Willie is confident enough to speak in front of others but his rushing of words shows the audience he is still feeling nervous. “Willie: It’s a very great pleasure to us to see you here tonight. It’s an honour you do us, and I assure you, speaking for my- my wife, as well as for myself, that the – the-

Maggie: (in an undertone) Generous. Willie: Oh, aye. That’s it. That the generous warmth of the sentiments so cordially expressed by Mr Beenstock and so enthusiastically seconded by – no, I’ve gotton that wrong road round… ” Willie’s speech is spoken rushed and prepared, as if he has been taught and rehearsed it to memorise it for this occasion. A child would memorise a role in a play and speak it as though it was being read from a piece of paper in a similar way to Willie, and in reality Willie’s education makes him like a child.

He has not been through school, just life and so being educated in English and so on now is as it is for a child, a completely new experience. When Willie was complimented on his speech, Maggie admits that she has been teaching him, she also tells of the hopes she has of him for the future, and in twenty years time she remarks that Willie will be thought of more than Mr Prosser and Beenstock at the bank. This lets the audience know that Willie has a future and with Maggie’s help, it is going to be a rich and prosperous future.

Although Maggie and Willie are now officially married, the roles and attitudes to one another have not changed. As Maggie prepares to leave she tells Willie that she will need the table on her return and so he better get on with clearing away the used cutlery and crockery and do the washing up. Willie does what Maggie asks; so far, he has listened to Maggie’s ideas, carried them out and seen his life improve. Willie is not an intelligent man and so Brighouse may have wanted to show the audience that Willie’s character has not changed, he still carries out Maggie’s orders but now for different reasons.

Before Maggie employed him and so he was paid to do what she said, but now he may have realised that if he does what she suggests or tells him to do, his life changes for the better. When Hobson arrives, Maggie makes a point of asking Willie if he can come in to show Hobson Willie’s authority. “Maggie: Will, it’s my father. Is he to come in? Willie: (loudly an boldly) Aye, let him come. Maggie is making a huge show of asking Willie permission, and Willie plays along, soundly masterly to show Hobson how he has changed.

Had it been any other visitor, Maggie would have invited them in herself without asking Willie’s consent but as it is her father, she makes sure Hobson knows that Willie is the master of the house and he has changed from being a boot hand to a boot maker with his own firm. Hobson begins to tell Maggie of the trouble of trespassing he is in, something that Maggie already knows about, and something that is also a part in her plan. As soon as he mentions that he is in trouble however, Maggie stands up and walks from the room telling Hobson that she is only in the way.

Hobson does not understand, he tells Maggie that he came to speak to her and after some convincing, which would have been unneeded had Maggie not wanted to prove her point to her father, that Willie was a changed and capable man. However, Maggie agrees to sit at the table with Hobson and Willie and, luckily for Willie, help him with his problem. Maggie strengthens Hobson’s relationship with Willie and this makes Willie feel uncomfortable and strange. “Willie: Sit down Mr Hobson Maggie: You call him father now. Willie: (astonished) Do I?

Willie is shocked that he can call Hobson father after years of being employed and paid to call him “sir”. After hearing Hobson’s problem, Willie begins to speak freely about the publicity Hobson will gain when the court case comes near, and his remarks are said with no malicious intent just simplicity. “Other people’s troubles is mostly what folks read the paper for, and I reckon it’s twice the pleasure to them when it’s trouble of a man they know themselves. (He is perfectly simple and has no malicious intention. ) Brighouse has changed Willie’s attitude towards Hobson now.

Willie used to be very respectful, shy and quiet when speaking to Hobson but now he speaks his mind even though it may not be the correct thing to say at the time. Willie is much more out-going and confident around Hobson when Maggie is there and he tries to help as much as he can, although all he can think of to say to Hobson is no comfort. From the stage directions, we can clearly see who is actually in charge of the household, and who is being made to appear in control. “Willie sits right of table. Maggie stands at the head of the table.

Hobson sits on sofa. ” From this stage direction, we can be given the impression that it is, in fact, Maggie in control of the household. It is custom for the head of the house to be seated or positioned at the head of the table, with guests and other along the sides. To an audience this little detail would show that Maggie is the dominant one in the household, Willie comes next in the ranking with Hobson most submissive seated away from the table. When Hobson’s patience begins to wear thin with Willie, Willie’s reaction does not go in the same way.

He keeps his temper perfectly calm and reasons with Hobson, explaining his statements. ” I’m not much good at talking, and I always seem to say the wrong things when I do talk. I’m sorry if my well-meant words don’t suit your taste… ” Willie does not become annoyed when Hobson’s becomes angered; he apologises but also defends himself from Hobson’s verbal attacks. He tells Hobson that he did not mean any harm by these comments, he was simply speaking his thoughts without realising they could offend anyone.

His self-confidence shows through again, more so than the last argument he had with Hobson, as he does not leave to escape any more conflict. He stands his ground without using violence. After all the guests have left Maggie and Willie alone Maggie again reassures Willie that he will be better thought of than either of his new brothers-in-law and then she tells him to bring his slate from the bedroom so she can set him a sentence to copy, thus improving his writing ability gradually. Maggie sets the work and comments on the progress he is making.

She tells him to take off his coat to stop it spoiling and asks to see the work he did the night before just as a teacher would set work and then mark it when completed. After setting him a sentence to copy, Maggie makes her way to her bedroom, telling Willie to finish his writing before he comes to bed. Willie finishes his writing and nervous about going into the bedroom he gets undressed and then prepares to sleep on the sofa as he feels he cannot enter the bedroom. He is confused and nervous, and he tosses and turns as he tries to fall into a sleep.

Maggie comes back on stage from the bedroom dressed in a nightgown to get Willie into the bedroom. “She comes to Will, shines the light on him, takes him by the ear, and returns with him to the bedroom” Willie only really does as he is asked, and only if it is Maggie who asks him. He does not really make his own decisions; he relies on Maggie to do the deciding for him. His character is a lot more confident and outgoing from the Willie at the beginning of the play, although inside he is still shy and unsure, and of course obedient to Maggie.

Act Four A year later, the scene opens at Hobson’s living room at the back of the shop. It is early in the morning and Hobson has called the doctor to visit, as he is unwell. His excessive drinking has led to him becoming so ill, he will have to rely on one of his daughters moving back into the boot shop to care for him. Maggie arrives first and explains that she will have to ask Willie’s opinion and do as he commands her. Alice refuses to move back, telling her audience that she is too used to a grander life.

Vickey arrives lastly and when she hears that she may be chosen to move back she whispers to Maggie, and the audience later finds out that Vickey was explaining that she is pregnant and so cannot be expected to leave her husband. Alice and Vickey scorn Maggie for her excuse, as they say that Maggie will do as she pleases and Willie could not stop her. Maggie informs them that Willie has changed a great deal since their last meeting him. This allows the audience to realise that within the year that has passed Willie has changed in the charming man that was hard to see underneath the lack of intelligence at the beginning of the play.

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In Hobson's Choice. (2017, Nov 22). Retrieved from

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