Arthur Birling is a rich factory owner in the early 20th century. He has two grown-up children and a wife. He is an arrogant man with little respect for people poorer than him. Priestley shows us this when Arthur says ‘the way some if these cranks talk and write now, you’d think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive – community and all that’. He clearly regards poorer people as being nothing to do with him.
He is linked to Eva because she used to work for him. Her and some other of his employees disagreed with their pay and asked for just over two more shillings a week. Arthur refused to pay them this and then sacked Eva. This was the first in a chain of events that led to Eva’s death. Arthur refuses to share or take any of the blame for this as he feels he did nothing wrong by sacking her.
To be honest there isn’t much to like about Arthur. He likes to constantly remind people of how important he is and how he is a ‘hard headed, practical man of business. To a 1940’s ...
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... actually dead (yet). He leaves in a mysterious manor. When the Birlings and Gerald investigate they learn he was not a real inspector and no girl had died in the infirmary. As they celebrate this news they receive a call to say a girl just died and there is an inspector on his way to speak to them. Leaving a question for the audience, was the inspector real at all?
I think what Priestley tried to do was very clever. He knew that the audience to his play would be upper class, exactly the people he was trying to change. He used clever tactics to hook the audience in and has a good twist at the end. By making the younger characters change into more morally aware people I think it sort of reflected the people he was trying to change. Because the younger generations will carry the view forward into the future.
An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly
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