Analysis of An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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Analysis of An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley J.B. Priestly wrote an Inspector Calls at a period when things could only get better. The purpose of the play was to wake up the middle and upper classes from their complacency in order for this improvement in life to happen. Each character in the Birling’s family represents a different attitude towards equal society and responsibility. The older generation Sybil Birling and Arthur Birling are bold representatives of irresponsibility and social prejudice. Although these are typical examples of the upper class nature, they should not be so for Mr Birling. He had worked his way up the social ladder, from once being a member of the working class, so one would expect him to have sympathy for the class he once lived amongst. However Mr Birling shows none whatsoever and even exploits his workers. On top of this Mr Birling is pompous and thinks he knows all just because he has high status. Of course he does not know all, and can be seen as idiotic due to his certain claims about the Titanic, war and strikes, which all of course were wrong, showing an example of dramatic irony. Mr Birling is too very shallow, he couldn’t care less who his daughter Sheila was getting engaged to, as long as her fiancée was going to lift him higher up the social ladder. In this case Gerald, Sheila’s husband to be, was the son of the owners of Crofts Limited. This would boost his industry, which Arthur was solely only interested in. Mr Birling is hardly willing to accept responsibility for Eva’s death. As said before he exploits his workers, thinking of them as nothing. To him Eva Smith was just a tiny cog in his great machine of making money and great impressions. He felt no responsibility for Eva throughout the play and only did when he realised he might be denied his knightship if the scandal was let into the open. He only planned to compensate her death by giving ‘thousands – yes, thousands’ not by admitting his guilt.

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