The Role of Social Class in Priestly's, An Inspector Calls Essay

The Role of Social Class in Priestly's, An Inspector Calls Essay

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Priestley mainly uses the characters in the play to present his views, especially Mr and Mrs Birling, to present his ideas about class and society. In the Birling family, Mrs Birling is the most upper class, and is always referring to the lower class female factory workers such as Eva Smith as ‘girls of that class’. She seems to think that working class people are not humans at all.
In the beginning, Priestley describes the Birlings’ house as ‘a fairly large suburban house’ with ‘good solid furniture of the period’, showing they are upper-middle class and that they have money. They also have servants such as a maid and a cook. Priestley wants to give us an idea that the Birlings are upper class both in possessions and attitudes.
The characters in ‘An Inspector Calls’ are mainly upper-middle class (Mr and Mrs Birling, Gerald, Sheila, Eric), but the Inspector is middle class and Eva Smith is working class. Most of the characters in ‘An Inspector Calls’ have varied opinions about social classes, but there are mainly two sides. The first main opinion is that the upper-middle class are the most important and the lower working classes are not important and that it doesn’t matter what happens to them (this is the view of Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald). For example Sheila and Mrs Birling need to be protected from the horrid things such as Eva Smith’s death because they are upper-middle class, whilst Eva Smith doesn’t need to be protected from horrid things in life because she is working class. The other opinion is that although they are working class, they should still be treated fairly even if they are different classes and that Eva Smith’s death is very tragic even if she wasn’t upper class (this is Eric, Sheila and The Inspector’s...


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...are lower class or upper class (‘[W]e don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’). Priestley believed in socialism, he uses the Inspector to express his thoughts about this. This is the main message that he wanted the audience to take away.
In ‘An Inspector Calls’, Priestley presents different ideas about class and society. His main idea is socialism. He believes that we ‘don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’ That whether we are upper class or lower class, we are responsible for each other and we shouldn’t look down on other people or think that they aren’t human but creatures just because they are a lower social class than us. Priestley tries to present the idea that society will only work if we work together and are responsible for each other. Otherwise, there would be no society.

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