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An Inspector Calls Act 1

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An Inspector Calls Act 1: What Do We Learn About The Birlings

We learn a lot about the Birling Family in The first act of J.B
Preistley's "An Inspector Calls". There are several themes that are
portrayed by the Characters but the two main themes highlighted are
the themes of denial and egocentricity. The Birlings are an upper
class almost aristocratic family and they look down on any one who is
below them in the social hierarchy.

We see evidence of this egocentricity when Sheila reveals how she got
Eva smith let go form her job simply because she was jealous of Eva's
aesthetic beauty. This highlights the type of person Sheila is, it
shows us she is selfish and bitter person. This is a major way in
which we see the upper class thinking about themselves all the time
and not about community. We also see this in the way Birling tries to
belittle the inspector by telling him that he was lord mayor and that
he was on the bench. The Birlings feed off their social status to earn
respect and even to make people timid towards them and Birling is a
prime example of this we learn that as well as being selfish he is
also very much in moral denial. He feels no remorse over the fact that
he fired Eva Smith unfairly and he is now in denial about his
involvement over her death. We learn that he is self-centred hard
headed and very narrow minded.

We also learn about Mrs B. she is very aristocratic and goes about her
business in a very snobbish and demeaning manner. We get evidence of
this when the inspector first addresses her and she reminds him that
he is in an authoritative position. she does this to try and put
people down to make herself feel better and more in control. She also
has a superiority complex . She reminds Gerald that they once had
royalty visit them because Gerald is a high socialite she feels he is
the perfect son in law. But in the process of doing this she puts hr
son Eric down as well and we get the feeling that she is not proud of
him and does not approve of him as much as she does Gerald. We see
this when she tells Gerald to act like part of the family and then
tells Eric to keep quiet.

The Birlings were presented to us by Priestly in this manner to
illustrate the ills of society and we can learn a lesson from them.
There is never anything positive achieved when you are not conscious
of others feelings and have no sense of community.

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