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Discuss the characters of Maggie and Hobson in their dramatic context. Comment on how they illustrate and highlight the social context of the Victorian era and the effect on the modern audience.

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Introduction

Drama coursework: Discuss the characters of Maggie and Hobson in their dramatic context. Comment on how they illustrate and highlight the social context of the Victorian era and the effect on the modern audience. Maggie and Hobson, the two main protagonists of the play when viewed in their social, moral and historic contexts act as the fulcrum for the play's humour. Brighouse's entertaining play was set in a bootshop in Salford. At that time in Victorian society there were many divisions amongst contrasting groups of people. The Victorians had strong beliefs and values, which are somewhat different to today's modern issues. Middle and upper class Victorian women valued the whole ritual of courting, fine extravagant weddings and a well thought of husband- in business not trade. A single woman was considered of little importance in harsh Victorian society, being thought to be inferior to a man. In addition Victorians held rigid beliefs and opinions on racism and the British Empire. Status in the Victorian culture was very important and the lines between these classes were rarely crossed. Brighouse's purpose in writing the play was to highlight gender issues, provide comedy incidents and focus on social problems, for example the Victorian's attitude to alcohol. Brighouse created Hobson's character to convey the stereotypical middle class family man, whilst introducing humour to the play. Hobson was a respectable businessman who was proud of his position in society. ...read more.

Middle

They could only escape from their families through marriage, but needed permission and marriage settlements from their fathers in order for this to happen. In addition they could not be perceived to actually searching for a husband. Even if they did break from their father's strict rules and ideas, there were their husband's expectations to live up to. They were expected to maintain a passive role and conform to their husband's rules, required to run the household without any help. The latest fashions in women's clothing, for example the use of corsets and bustles were impossibly restrictive. Overall in the Victorian period women had few privileges. In the character of Maggie these stereotypical attitudes towards women are overturned. In Act 1 Maggie is portrayed as a businesswoman, never missing an opportunity to make to make a sale when she forced Albert Prosser to purchase the boots. "They're very good boots and you don't need to buy a pair of laces today, because we gave them in as discount." The audience reaction to this is most likely shock and anger in Victorian times, but in modern times no one would mind. The proposal to Will, would have provoked audience judgement. Even today a man would normally take the lead and propose to a woman. Maggie's forceful and strong willed personality in contrast to Will's timid character is evident -"You're going to wed me." Particular incidents in Act 2 convey the turning attitudes towards women stereotypes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Due to her strong character Maggie could have been viewed to be a bit of a rebel for her time, but she also has a delicate nature to her. She rebels against society; in the strict diversions and ideas, but deep down she holds sentimental values on love and life. Overall I believe Maggie to be a strong, determined yet loyal women, ahead of people of time in terms of beliefs and equality. In contrast to Maggie, Hobson achieves different audience response. Hobson is mostly to blame for his gradual decline in his fortunes. His stubborn and obnoxious attitude drove his daughters away and his neglect for his shop ruined the business when Maggie left. In addition Hobson's values, for example men superior to women and strong class systems are societies fault. This was the way most people thought and acted. The daughters left him and his health declined more on the account he had no one to look after him, but the daughters were pushed away. He became very depressed and the level of alcohol consumption increased. Therefore the daughters were not really at fault, but were a minor a factor. Will Mossop took most of Hobson's business when Maggie and him left to better them selves. This meant Hobson lost money and focused more on drink. There were other aspects to consider when analysing Hobson's downfall such as alcohol. His alcohol problem also made his behaviour alter and offend people, this was mainly his fault but society and way of life could have been important aspects to consider. Many people lost the battle to alcohol in Victorian times. ...read more.

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