Does anybody have any feedback on Mrs. Williams from Spoon River Anthology other than she was a hatmaker who had affairs?
I love Spoon River Anthology and have used bits of it several times in my classes. Mrs. Williams, as you say, was the town milliner, or hatmaker. She was also the mother of Dora Williams, another character in the anthology. Mrs. Williams says that the gossiper's blamed Dora's "strange disappearance" on the way she was raised. She doesn't give any details, but we can infer from the gossip that the townspeople don't approve of her as a mother. (You might want to read Dora's poem for some more background.)
Mrs. Williams gives some advice to the women of Spoon River: "Wear powder and trinkets and fashionable hats" if you want to keep your husbands.
You could make her bitter from the gossip and her daughter's disappearance. And what about that puzzling question at the end:
Well now, let me ask you: If all of the children, born here in Spoon River Had been reared by the County, somewhere on a farm; And the fathers and mothers had been given their freedom To live and enjoy, change mates if they wished, Do you think that Spoon River Had been any the worse?
Did her daughter, Dora, disappear as a young woman, or was she just a child? Did she run away, or did her mother give her up to the County (or did the County take her away)? Is that the gossip was about?
You could also make her seem flighty and unaffected by it all.
I hope this helps and that you do well.