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    A play set in the 1880’s Essay (1099 words)

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    By referring to Act One and Act Four of the play, show how the character of Will Mossop is developed by Harold Brighouse. You should consider the different techniques the playwright uses to show the changes in the character. Hobson’s choice is a play set in the 1880’s, at this time society was split into classes. There was working class, middle class and upper class. The women were treated with the same respect as the working class.

    At the start of the play Will Mossop is working class and the Hobsons are middle class. The first act is set in the interior of Hobson’s Boot shop in Chapel Street, Salford. Act Four is set in Hobson’s living room, the same address as the boot shop. The main characters in the play are Henry Horatio Hobson who has three daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vickey. William Mossop is Hobson’s boot hand. He doesn’t seem to have any family as he lodges with Mrs Figgins and her daughter Ada, who Will is betrothed to.

    The play follows the Hobson/Mossop family through a very eventful year. In Act One Will is working in the basement of Hobson’s shop, he is a very talented boot maker. Maggie Hobson recognises Will’s potential and proposes marriage. After a lot of persuading and a beating from Hobson Will agreed it would be a good idea. The third act is a month later and they have got married and moved into a cellar in Oldfield Road, this is their business and home. Act Four is a year later and with the help of Maggie, Will’s character changes significantly, he becomes more confident, assertive. Will also gets educated by Maggie as that wasn’t something that the working class were able to afford. At the end of the play Will and Maggie move back to Chapel Street because Hobson develops chronic alcoholism also, Will becomes partners with Hobson on the condition that Hobson is a silent partner.

    My first impression of Will in Act One is that he is timid, this becomes apparent in his first appearance. Mrs Hepworth says “Take that” when handing him a visiting card, Will flinches expecting ‘that’ to be a smack. It also becomes apparent that he is shy when he is talking to Maggie;’Nay, I’d be feared to go in them fine places’  Will is intimidated by big shops in Manchester where there are lots of rich people, I think that he is scared that the people will look down their noses at him and the fact that he doesn’t have a very good education. This could also show that he doesn’t like change and has no ambitions, or he doesn’t have the confidence on his own to do anything bold. Will has low self-belief, when Maggie questions whether he wants to leave he says;

    “I’ve been at Hobson’s all my life and I’m not leaving till I’m made.” He is saying that he isn’t going to leave Hobson’s until he dies, this could be because of low self-confidence and he doesn’t believe he could actually do it. On the other hand he could not want to be mocked for having plans and dreams. Another impression of Will is that he is not very well educated (maybe illiterate) this is shown in all of his conversations in the first act, especially in his conversation with Mrs Hepworth. Will is trying to read the visiting card but can’t because “it’s such a funny print”. Another sign is as he speaks he repeats phrases a lot, such as “well, by gum”. He has a poor vocabulary, when he does speak it is only to answer a direct question and even then he doesn’t say much.

    A good characteristic that Will possesses is honesty. He tells Maggie straight out that he doesn’t love her and she doesn’t love him; “…when it comes to marrying, I’m bound to tell you that I’m none in love with you” I think that Will is honest to Maggie because he has respect for her, when he tells Maggie that the reason that he can’t marry her is because he is betrothed to Ada Figgins is another example of what I think is Will being honest out of respect for Maggie.

    It is shown in his first appearance that he is an excellent boot maker but under appreciated, when Mrs Hepworth says; “The man’s a treasure, and I expect you underpay him.” Everyone can see how talented Will is and that Hobson is taking advantage of him by paying him very low wages. Until the end of the first act Will is very easily intimidated and he is pushed around by just about everyone.

    At the end of the act Will’s character changes, He is no longer shy and always holding his tongue. Hobson had been told about the marriage between Maggie and Will and Hobson believes that Will is to blame. Will doesn’t think it’s fair that he is being blamed for something that is not his fault; “I’m none wanting thy Maggie, it’ her that’s after me, but I’ll tell you this, Mr Hobson: If you touch me with that belt, I’ll take her quick, aye, and stick to her like glue.”

    Will feels that it is wrong for Hobson to be beating him, Will has a good sense of right and wrong. I think that he also feels that he hasn’t encouraged it to happen, Maggie initiated the idea so why should he get punished? This is a good example of when Will is being unpredictable, he can stand up for himself despite what people think. He knows his place in society and doesn’t want to cause any problems by stepping out of place, he is a ‘yes sir, no sir’ kind of guy.

    In Act Four Will has become ambitious, educated and assertive. The most obvious change in his character is his growth in confidence, Will appears a lot more confident and doesn’t need to be threatened with violence to stand up for himself. This is shown in the stage directions when Maggie and Will enter Hobson’s living room; ‘Will enters. Maggie follows him. He is not aggressive, but he is prosperous and has self-confidence. Against Alice and Vickey he is consciously on his mettle’ Maggie is following Will now, not the other way around. Even though he appears to be full of confidence, he is on guard when it comes to Alice and Vickey. Also he still seems to be leaning on Maggie a lot, he is, in my opinion, in constant need of reassurance.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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