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Hobson’s Choice is not only a comedy but it also deals with historical, social and cultural issues in the 19th Century

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"Hobson's Choice is not only a comedy but it also deals with historical, social and cultural issues in the 19th Century." "Some Plays are not only for humour, but provide a deeper meaning to enforce something else." Plot Synopsis: This play takes place in Salford, near Manchester in 1880. Henry Horatio Hobson is a widower with three unmarried daughters. Lately they have become too 'bumptious' for his liking and he considers marrying the two younger ones, Alice and Vickey off. However, he does not consider marrying off the elder one, Maggie as he opines that she is no longer of marriageable age and she is useful in the shop. After Maggie is able to convince Willie - Hobson's shoemaker to marry her, they set up their own business together selling shoes. A month later we find that business at Hobson's shop is slow and Maggie and Willie are about to get married. After the wedding it is revealed to the father Hobson that Alice and Vickey are to get married to Albert and Freddie, their two suitors. A year later business has drastically declined at Hobson's shop and there is no trade coming in. Hobson becomes depressed and is hinting at committing suicide. A doctor diagnoses that he is suffering from chronic alcoholism and Willie and Maggie return to Hobson to keep an eye on him as advised by the doctor. Willie tells Hobson that he will only return if he and Hobson become partners, but Hobson will be only a sleeping partner without any influence and the shop will be renamed Mossop and Hobson. Willie is now in charge. Harold Brighouse was born on 26 July 1882 in Eccles, near Salford, Lancashire to John Brighouse a cotton merchant. His play superficially appears to be merely a comedy, but is actually a documentation of the social attitudes and historical cultures of that period. ...read more.


It's immodest. ALICE: It is not immodest father. It's the fashion to wear bustles. HOBSON: Then to hell with fashion. Hobson strongly believes in social classes and regards the lower classes as inferior. This attitude is reflected by his two daughters, Alice and Vickey, when they look down on their sister Maggie for taking accommodation in a cellar in Oakfield Road and for furnishing the cellar with second hand furniture. Hobson is obsequious to the upper - class particularly when it comes to the extracting money from the prosperous and respectable Mrs Hepworth: HOBSON (Page 8): Good morning, Mrs Hepworth. What a lovely day! (He places chair for her.) MRS HEPWORTH: Morning, Hobson. I've come about these boots you sent me home. HOBSON: (kneeling and fondling her foot): Yes Mrs Hepworth. They look very nice. MRS HEPWORTH: Get up Hobson. (He scrambles up, controlling his feelings.) You look ridiculous on the floor. Who made these boots? It is evident from this excerpt that Hobson dislikes the upper class, and considers them conceited. However, he is servile to them for money and exploits her presence to show off about the shop: JIM (Page 10): That's a bit of a startler. HOBSON: Eh? Oh, morning, Jim. JIM: You're doing a good class trade if the carriage folk come to you Hobson. Maggie, on the other hand, is the exact opposite to her father and we can see her strong views concerning the elitists of the upper - class: ALICE (Page 21): You're going to marry Willie Mossop! Willie Mossop! VICKEY: You've kept it quiet, Maggie. MAGGIE: You know about it pretty near as soon as Willie does himself. VICKEY: Well I don't now! ALICE: I know, and if you're afraid to speak your thoughts, I'm not. Look here Maggie, what you do touches us, and you're mistaken if you think I'll own Willie Mossop for my brother-in-law. ...read more.


This is ironic because he indulges in alcohol but wants temperance folk for his daughters. He tries to constantly hide the fact that he drinks at the Moonraker's and pretends to go to Masons' meetings. HOBSON (Page 4): Maggie, I'm just going out for a quarter of an hour. MAGGIE: Yes, father. Don't be late for dinner. There's liver. HOBSON: It's an hour off dinnertime. MAGGIE: So that, if you stay more than an hour in the Moonraker's Inn, you'll be late for it. HOBSON: 'Moonraker's'? Who said -? (Turning) VICKEY: If your dinner's ruined, it'll be your own fault. HOBSON: Well, I'll be eternally - ALICE: Don't swear, father. HOBSON: ...Listen to me you three. I've come to conclusions about you. And I won't have it. Do you hear that? Interfering with my goings out and comings in. The idea! I've a mind to take measures with the lot of you. MAGGIE: I expect Mr. Heeler's waiting for you in Moonraker's father. An interesting point that is relevant to social issues is the custom of dowries and religious marriages that took place at that time. We see that it was the father's duty to pay for the dowry and settlements. This duty can be proven from an excerpt that I brought on Page 4 - HOBSON (Page 14): "From the moment that you breathed the word 'settlements' it was dead off, Jim." Regarding the religious marriages, we see that Maggie and Willie have a religious marriage at church and not a civil one. This is certainly unlike modern trends of having a civil marriage outside church. Also, in the Victorian times people got married and not just partners, as we see with Maggie and Willie. * * * * * * Conclusion: It is apparent that Brighouse has incorporated many themes into this play. As I mentioned before, this play is not merely a comedy, but a treasure house of historical and social issues that reflects life in the Victorian period in which it was written. THE END Hobson's Choice - 1 - Gabriel Kada ...read more.

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