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J.B. Priestley's "Inspector Calls"

Satisfactory Essays
J.B. Priestley's "Inspector Calls" J B Priestley presents the readers with a fascinating play of guilt and innocence, of prejudice and hypocrisy. But there are parts of this play that i fail to understand. Mr and Mrs Birling are a middle class couple with two children, Eric and Shelia. Shelia is engaged to an upper class man named Gerald Croft. It is not everyday that an inspector should turn up at a house filled with people with such a high status. However, Mr Birling and Mr Croft are respected gentlemen, so why does Priestley leave it so unclear to them, and us, as to whether Eva Smith is one person or several? There are many possible answers to this question as different people will have different views and opinions as to why Priestly does this. However, I am going to discuss my interpretations of why he chose to do this. There are certain things that readers must notice to be able to understand the question; “Does it affect your response to the play that Priestly leaves it unclear whether there is one Eva Smith or several.” For example, the fact that on questioning members of the Birling family and Mr Croft, the inspector insists that only one person sees the photograph at any one time, and that that person must be the one who is being questioned. Of course, it is possible that this is the way in which this particular inspector does his work. However, if he were to let everyone in the Birling household see the picture at the same time, by the time he questioned the other family members they would have had time to react to the picture and would be able to pretend that they didn’t know the girl, whereas dealing with them individually enables the inspector to notice any suspicious behaviour. Also, could it be that there is a political message hidden in this investigation? The actions of Mr and Mrs Birling show that they are unaware of the impact that they have on the lives of people in the working class, such as Eva Smith. They show no sign of remorse or regret, even after hearing that their actions and the selfish decisions of their children and future son-in-law contributed to the killing of a young vulnerable woman. However, if this woman was of a higher status, perhaps their views would be very different. Class was a very important aspect of social life in the 1900s and I believe that the Inspector was trying to show the Birlings and Mr Croft, that it is not the most important thing about people. Eva Smith was working class, she had little money and was lonely.
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