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Hobson's Choice by Harold Brighouse.

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Richard Tandy June 2003 Buile Hill High School Centre Number 33321 English Coursework Post 1914 Hobson's Choice by Harold Brighouse Assignment: With close reference to the text, explain how audiences past and present would react to the comedy in the play. Examine the cultural and historical contexts. Refer to the film version to further support your comments on the drama. Introduction Harold Brighouse Although a prolific and popular playwright and novelist during his lifetime, the reputation of Harold Brighouse today rests almost entirely on his play Hobson's Choice. Born in Eccles near Salford on 26 July 1882, his mother was a teacher and his father was in the cotton business. Despite gaining a scholarship to Manchester Grammar School, Harold was not a keen student; at seventeen he left school to start work in the textile industry. However, during his lunch breaks at work, Brighouse discovered no fewer than ten music halls and theatres near his workplace. They provided a form of escape from his job, and he soon became obsessed with the theatre. Theatre-going had made Harold dissatisfied with his work and, following a visit to London to see a play that he later described as 'outrageously bad', he was determined to write a better one and he soon became involved in writing plays. Following an initial rejection, he took advice and wrote a one-act play called Lonesome-Like, one-act plays were very common at this time. Brighouse devoted his spare time to writing, and after the success of another one-act play, The Doorway, and his first full-length play, Dealing in Futures, he never looked back. After the First World War he was able to give up working in textiles and concentrate on his writing. His output eventually in totalled fifty one-act plays and fifteen full-length plays. Manchester School of Dramatists Much of Brighouse's success was paralleled by the rise of what was known as the "repertory movement" which, from 1907 onwards, saw the spread of serious drama to the major British cities outside London and the formation of professional theatre companies there. ...read more.


Here Maggie is showing affection but she is also praising him. However, as soon as he gets the opportunity Willie drops his hands because he feels uncomfortable because in those days workers and mistresses would not have been intimate. An audience of the past would have known this and therefore there reaction would have been of understanding. Maggie then goes on to say "do you know what keeps this business on its legs? Two things: one's good boots you make that sell themselves, the other's the bad boots other people make and I sell". Here Maggie is praising Willie. He then praises her back by saying "You're a wonder in the shop, Miss Maggie". Maggie then praises Willie by saying "And you're a marvel in the workshop" and then says "Well?" expecting Willie to reply. It is then clear that Willie is not on a parallel with Maggie's thoughts, as he is confused and says "Well, what?" It is then clear that Maggie is still controlling the conversation because she says, "You're leaving me to do the work, my lad". Willie then gets uncomfortable and says, "I'll be getting back to my stool, Miss Maggie" and moves towards the trap door. However, Maggie stops him and says, "You'll go back when I've done with you". An audience of the past would have laughed at this because here the woman is telling the man what to do. Looking into Willie's eyes, Maggie then says, "I think you'll do for me". In a state of shock Willie sits down, mopping his brow and says, "I'm feeling queer-like. What dost want me for?" Audiences past and present would have laughed at this type of role reversal. However, when Maggie says, "My brain and your hands 'ull make a working partnership", Willie is very relieved and stands up, smiling. He then repeats the word "partnership!" in a more relieved voice and says in amusing style "Oh, that's a different thing. ...read more.


In Hobson's Choice, Willie was a member of the poorer people and it was obvious that there was a barrier between him, who worked in a cellar, and those such as Hobson who owned the shop. However, today this barrier between the rich and the poor still exists more than ever, so it is clear that some things haven't changed. I personally enjoyed Hobson's Choice as I found it amusing throughout and it was an interesting and enjoyable story the way it illustrated what Salford was like in those days and how people were treated according to their class. My favourite parts of the story were probably when Willie stood up to Hobson under Maggie's watchful eye and walked out of the shop with her, much to Hobson's amazement, and when Maggie told Willie that he was the man for her and he sat down complete shock and amazement. If I was in the audience I would have enjoyed these parts because they are some of the most amusing parts of the play, mainly because of the way Willie acts. For example, it is amusing when Willie is shocked by the prospect of marriage and he sits down mopping his brow and says in a shocked voice, "I'm feeling queer-like" - this is highly amusing as the poor man is taken back. In the play Maggie comes across as the strongest character and somebody whom feminists within today's society would be able to identify. Although in the era when the play set Maggie would have been a very unusual character. The character I would be most sympathetic with in the play would be Willie. This is because he is controlled throughout the play and he was the one who seemed to receive the most punishment, such as when Hobson tries to strike him with a belt for taking up with Maggie, even though he did not do the taking up. However, he would be the character I admire the most because of the way he didn't give under the pressure of Hobson and stuck by Maggie. 1 ...read more.

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