Hobson's Choice Themes

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  • Themes in Hobson's Choice
    • Historical, social & cultural contexts
      • Victorian Era
        • Expectations of men were to provide shelter & support for the wife, so be relied on for wealth, status etc
        • Expectations of women were to look pretty, attractive and to be lady like
        • Middle Class was Hobson's status
          • Status determined by Maggie who works hard - social status upside down?
            • Maggie is expected to be a lady - is she?
          • Hobson's status could be lower at the end of the novel: alcoholism, suicidal, then Willie's status vastly improving...
    • How is the setting important?
      • Victorian era
        • Industrialising
          • this created Middle classes
          • formed a social hierarchy which is seen clearly in the book
      • Lancashire
        • compared to other areas is not posh!
          • not as well educated, rougher
      • Posh area of the town
        • Does Maggie suit it?
          • She is not ladylike, compared to her sisters: who dress to attract attention and care about appearance
    • Impact of choices/  decisions
      • Maggies decisions affect her future: she chooses Will, so has success, riches etc
      • Alice & Vickey shoose gentlemen, who are already successful, they don't have to work
      • hobson choosing to turn to alcohol means that he has to submit to Maggie, otherwise he will die
    • What does Brighouse think women should be like?
      • He thinks women should be like Maggie: in the way that they are flexible & practical
      • He wants them to be of a contrast to Alice & Vickey who he portrays in a negative way - they are proud, selfish and changeable
      • Like Mrs Hepworth; she is upper calss - and needn't be kind, nonetheless she is generous and respectful of Maggie &
        • She's polite and not proud - she's a minor character with a big influence - without her money would Willie & Maggie have been able to set up their shop?
    • Does Brighouse like Maggie?
      • Yes! She is presented as a contrast to characters in a positive way
      • she is used to criticise the ways of the other characters in the way that she is: humble, unladylike, kind, un selfish, loving ...
      • She's not greedy, she is pragmatic, practical and makes everyone benefit from her doings
      • She is a useful person to have around - A&V cant even add up!
    • How is social status presented?
      • Willi: who is a workman, he works under the floorman: Tubby; Will at the start is talented at his job, is described as a 'rabbit' and is v nervous.
        • At the end he is confident & assertive, the most sucessful
        • His father works in the workhouse: a pauper, no income, the criminal underclass
          • maybe, which is why Hobson doesn't approve of the marriage
      • Hobson's: Middle clasMaggie s, Maggie works for it, does Hobson? Daughters want to make higher class husbands - Maggie wants a hard worker, and looks for talent - rather than social status
    • What are the qualities of a successful business?
      • Teamwork: shown with Maggie & Willie
        • "My brains and your hands will make a working partnership."
      • Skills: Will's talent & Maggie's organisation
        • Contrast to this shown in Alice, who can't even spell!
      • Quick thinking
        • E.g. when Albert comes in courting Alice, she immediately asks him what he wants
        • Knowing the location of things: people are in a rush, knowledge needed, which A&V haven't got
    • How is feminism presented?
      • Alice & Vickey represent true femininism: clothes, character, appearance, attraction, romance ...
      • Maggie represents a contrast to this way; in a way she almost 'runs' the house - ensuring everything is in order, arranging her marridge
        • She shows resistance to the patriarchy
      • Mrs Hepworth represents true feminism; she is so polite, courterous etc...
    • How  is transformation & change presented?
      • Hobson's changes: he is relatively success at the start, but then alcoholism takes over, he has to submit to Maggie, status dampened
      • Maggie doesn't really change, which shows her consistancy
      • Willie goes from being a workman to an employer/partner, he can, he can read&write, he has authority and asserts it ...
    • What makes this play a Lancashire comedy?
      • Will has unintentional humour: telling Hobson that it would be great to have the name in the paper...
      • Maggie's actions: the way she treats people - telling a man he's to marry him!
      • Hobson's actions: his pomposity - how the audience see Hobson as a negative person by his description, and the way Hobson views himself
      • What makes the humour? Accents, "Ey by gum!"
      • The transitional class
      • Events such as making Fred & Albert do the washing up, hiding in the bedroom
    • What is the significance of the title: Hobson's Choice?
      • There is actually no choice at all - the outcome was determined
      • Hobson chooses to be overcome by alcohol; or is it in him? He then falls into the cellar, which gets him trouble, and then the rest of the family make choices for him
      • Willie's choices are made by Maggie - she makes him marry her! She also forces him to read & write
      • The title is actually very significant because original Hobson ran a stable - if you rented a horse, you had the next one in line, etc - so you couldn't decide
        • So perhaps Hobson isn't able to make decisions for himself? Maggie has to make them for him
      • Victorian life for women was chosen for them - although not for Maggie?

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