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How do you think the audience at the first London performance of 'Hobson's Choice' in 1916 would have reacted to the development of Willie Mossop?

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Introduction

Sam Liu How do you think the audience at the first London performance of 'Hobson's Choice' in 1916 would have reacted to the development of Willie Mossop? The audience of the first performance of 'Hobson's Choice' would have a varied opinion of the development of Willie Mossop. The majority of the audience would have been from that of a wealthy middle class family or of high birth, as these were the people of Edwardian society who were able to afford entrance to such productions. These people could relate themselves to Hobson himself and how he treats Willie Mossop, someone of a lower birth. From the very beginning of the play, the audience is complimented by Hobson, or their social status and well being; Hobson describes himself as 'middle class and proud of it'. Also, Hobson says that he 'stands for common sense and sincerity'. This compliment allows the audience to feel proud of their status and as a result of this; they look towards Willie in a shameful undignified way. When Willie Mossop first appears, he does so from the 'trap door leading to the cellar where the work is done', this stage direction reflects the workers were lower beings and were unheard and unseen by many of their social superiors. ...read more.

Middle

There would have been a different response from the younger spectators. This was a time in history when the roles of women were changing; this was a time when the women filled the places of their husbands in the factories and in the fields. This was at a time when the suffragettes were promoting women. Maggie's superiority over Willie would have been overwhelming for the young women of society. They would look towards Willie as the man they would want to be subject to, if only he was of a higher class. They envy Maggie for a man who is easily to control. We see Hobson's continuing role as the master. He calls Willie's father a 'Work house brat' implying that he will not have his daughter marry such a 'low' being. Hobson foresees himself as the 'laughing stoke of the place' if he allowed such a marriage. The audience I believe, especially the older generations would have stood with Hobson, they 'would shunt at' Maggie's disobedience and when Hobson decided to beat Willie, these people would admire his role as master. However the younger women would have reacted with sympathy for Willie, not only because he was beaten, but he's suffering from Maggie. When Willie stood up to his master at the end of act one, "...and if Mr Hobson raises his strap again, I'll walk out of this shop with thee." ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Maggie was dominant to Will, in public, she does wonders to boost his reputation, and when asked if she could look after Hobson when he fell ill, she gracefully replied, "It's not up to me, it's up to my husband". At this point, I think the traditional crowd of the audience would react happily to this that Maggie acts with dignity and works hard to preserve the reputation of her husband. Towards the end, Bridge house steers the audience to favour William and his new wife. When asked if his business was more than Hobson's life, he answers, "I am none worried that bad and I'll see my business suffer". He has every right to say that, however, he allowed Hobson to stay with him; his sympathetic approach ultimately gains him the favour of the audience. He also becomes dominant, "Come home now Maggie". William admitted '[I've] moved on a bit since..." working at Hobson's shoe shop. However he confided in Maggie that he did 'Bored on Hobson too hard.' At the end of it all the audience would have seen a poor worker become a respected craftsman, whose name precedes that of his former employer. It's an inspirational for all however, for the people who could use this as something to aspire to, they were not present; they were working in the factories, and fighting for King and Country. ...read more.

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