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The play, “Hobson’s choice,” written by Harold Brighouse, was set during the time period when women’s rights were forbidden – not being allowed to vote for example. In doing so, Harold Brighouse combines both comedy and confliction, between all of the characters.
When the curtain comes up, you see Hobson’s daughters on the stage in the shop. Maggie, who is hard working that she will succeed by perusing her wishes rather than her fathers. The audience would perhaps find this situation strange as women during the 19th century were not thought of as business women. As a result of this, tension rises as Maggie is defying the stereotype regarding women. She defies the fact that most women don’t make something of themselves. By looking at the account books, it portrays her personality as forceful, forthright and a business type woman. As Maggie examines the account book, it displays that she is intellectual as she understand maths and she straight seems to be more noticeable from her other sisters as soon as she enters the scene. She automatically seems to look superior to them.
During the Victorian days, women had to abide by specific regulations. One of these regulations being that you had to obey your father as he was generally the master. There is a huge amount of debate in the play, “Hobson’s choice,” due to this certain rule. An example of differences developing due to that rule is when they are discussing what time to have dinner: “Dinner will be when I come in for it. I’m master here.” By Hobson actually announcing that he is master, he in my opinion is not only reminding his daughters that he is superior and his daughters are second best to him, but I feel that he is also reminding himself. This could be as he may be losing control over his daughters.
In a sense, a debate occurs when Hobson and his three daughters are discussing marriage proposals as well. “You thought me past the marrying age. I’m not that’s all.” Here, Maggie is refusing to be put into the so called, “Shelved,” cluster that her father has positioned her in.
There are a number of issues this play looks at towards subjects that even happen in today’s world – for example, alcohol issues, marriage, health and family structure.
When Will Mossop is introduced to the play, Maggie is telling him how she wishes to be wed to him, however Will is already tokened – to be wed – to another, Ada Figgins, and is very reluctant to Maggie’s decision. Ada then comes into the shop, like every other day, to give Will his lunch she had made for him, but before she can even see Will, Maggie jumps in front of her and tells Ada she will be getting wed to Will instead. Ada and Maggie have a dispute towards Maggie’s words. Will tries to tell Maggie he is tokened and it will be with Ada like it was supposed to be, until Maggie is telling Ada to leave her shop and as Will will not stand up for Ada, instead tells her that the shop is Maggie’s fathers business and he is the employer, we all find out that the only reason Will is with Ada is because her mother is very controlling and Will actually fears her. Ada leaves the shop followed by Hobson walking back in. Maggie then tells her father about the decision that had been made and he is very reluctant to listen to the ‘nonsense’ and lashes out on Will and hits him with his belt. Will is then very and tells Maggie he will wed her and her father will not be able to get in the way, followed by Will giving Maggie a kiss in front of her father!
Will and Maggie have now left the shop together and are now starting their own business by opening up their own boot store. They both ask Mrs Hepworth if they can borrow a hundred pound to start up the business as she is the only one who can give the future a future. However, as this is all happening Hobson’s shop is losing a lot of their business and is going downhill, driving Hobson to turn to alcohol and always being in the Moonrakers.
Will and Maggie wed followed by them seeking husbands for Maggie’s younger sisters, Alice and Vikki causing the Hobson family to be no more as Henry Hobson is so angry with his daughters and also humiliated.
After Maggie and Will have wed they go back to the newlyweds house with the sisters and their new partners to have some tea and a slice of cake to celebrate the marriage. However the evening before the wedding took place Maggie had made a plan to keep Hobson out the way so he didn’t ruin it by waiting till he was at the Moonrakers and opening up a cellar door knowing he would fall into it and fall asleep as he was so drunk and unable to look after himself. When Hobson woke up the next day he found a letter on him saying he had been fined for trespassing on someone else’s land, which he showed to Maggie and everyone else when he went to her home that evening.
Nearly a year later all three sisters have moved on and are now married, and also Vikki is expecting a baby on the way. Hobson has had the visit from the doctor who has figured out he is an alcoholic and a depressed man, and his only cure was his family, he prescribed him no medication but in fact for Maggie to move back in to look after him.
After a lot of bickering between the sisters and Hobson to see who will look after him and move back in, Maggie agrees to ask Will for permission for them to move back in. Will agrees with no hesitation but is a bit nervous about shutting down his business. However, Hobson tries to tell him he will give Will back his old job and Maggie can have her old job back, Will however was not convinced nor was he happy about the offer. Instead they would share the business together and change the name to something that would suit both men.
I feel as if Hobson’s Choice went over a lot of issues, some of which I have some personal knowledge in so I therefore found the play very interesting to read and see how others deal with the same situation. Even though I loved to read this play and I would recommend it to others, it was very hard to write about as so much was in it. It opens readers eyes to see what it was like to be brought up in the 19th century and see how life was supposed to be like. A very well written book, and also a very easy read but yet exciting play.