The Death of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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The Death of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley Inspector Calls is set in the fictitious North Midlands industrial city of Brumley during the Edwardian Era in 1912. Arthur Birling and his wife, Sybil, are holding a dinner party to celebrate their daughter's engagement. Among the guests is Gerald Croft, the daughter's fiancé. Gerald is the son of a business rival, Sir George Croft, and Mr. Birling is extremely pleased with the match partly due to the closer business links he hopes to develop with Gerald's father. The play centres on the arrival of a Police Inspector, who says he is investigating the suicide of a young working class woman. As the play progresses, we learn how each member of the family was involved with the woman, and how they all contributed to her apparent suicide. The Edwardian Era was a period of huge social divisions and distinctions. Characters such as Mr and Mrs Birling were very common. While they lived in luxury, over eight million people had to live on less that 25 shillings a week and as a result were in poverty. The working classes had virtually no rights and were separated into the "deserving" and "un-deserving" classes. J.B. Priestly was writing in 1946 at a time of great optimism, following the downfall of the Nazi Regime, and was trying to convey a message of responsibility throughout the play. Responsibility is one of the main themes of the play and J.B. Priestly was very politically minded. He was appalled and disgusted by the way the rich didn't seem to have any empathy for the poor in pre 1914 Britain. I think the play is inspired by the social situation of 1912 and is almost a his... ... middle of paper ... ... ignoring the truth. But on the other hand, Eric tried to escape from the world in which he grew up. He became a spoilt brat, spurred on by the idea of rebellion. He had no need to wreck Eva's life, but for a few nights of passion he couldn't care less. He was not educated about the "outside world", and acted like many young gentlemen of the upper-classes would have done. But he was naïve and foolish to think that he could watch life pass by, without growing up and seeing things as they should be. He deliberately stole, lied and blundered his way through those few months, not caring about the consequences. That, to me, is enough to find him guilty of driving Eva to commit suicide. Although it could be argued that he didn't directly affect Eva's actual suicide, I believe he was the "straw that broke the donkey's back".
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