Hobson’s Choice

Nearly every day, we are besieged with claims that human actions are caused by forces outside of our control. Whether it is abuse as a child, one’s economic conditions, or genetics, we are repeatedly told that we aren’t responsible for our actions.

Hobson’s Choice dramatizes the fact that we possess the faculty of volition (free will), and the choices that we make shape the type of person that we are.

Henry Hobson wants to marry off his two younger daughter’s, declaring that his eldest daughter—Maggie—is unmarriable because she is nearly thirty. But Maggie refuses to let others shape her life.

Maggie is a determined woman. She wants more from life than serving as a caretaker and unpaid store clerk for her authoritarian father. And she won’t let social mores or her father’s unenlightened attitude stop her from achieving her goals.

Maggie decides that she will marry Will Mossup, a simple man who is content to make boots in the basement of Hobson’s store. Maggie sees Will as a man of virtue, which he demonstrates at the end of their first date by refusing to kiss Maggie because he doesn’t love her.

Virtue is the means by which we attain the values we need and desire. It makes a difference whether we choose to be honest or an evader, productive or a mooch, think independently or accept what others tell us. Maggie and Will choose to be virtuous, and we see the consequences of their choices as the movie progresses. We also see the consequences of Henry Hobson’s choices.

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