The Theme of 'No Man is an Island' Illustrated in Priestly's An Inspector Calls

The Theme of 'No Man is an Island' Illustrated in Priestly's An Inspector Calls

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The play “An Inspector Calls” makes us realize that the philosophy “no man is an island” (John Donne) is a lesson that we should learn. It means that no-one should isolate themselves and that if a person dies etc. then the lives of others are seriously altered. “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestly gets this view across. The main plot involves the Birling family and the girl’s fiancé celebrating when a mysterious inspector turns up and asks some questions about a girl’s suicide. It turns out they are all, in some way, involved in her death.
J.B. Priestly proves this famous quote through the basic storyline. Each of the characters possesses a mixture of the seven deadly sins. Sir Arthur Birling starts a chain of events when he sacks the girl, Eva Smith, from his factory, Birling & Co when she goes on strike for a pay rise. Mr Birling shows greed when he does not want to part with his money. He is a very vindictive man. Birling says she was a good worker and was about to be promoted but because he could not control his greed and anger, another deadly sin, he sacked her instead. His daughter, Sheila Birling, insists she has never heard of Eva Smith until the inspector shows her a photograph. Eva had got a job at Milwards (a posh clothing store) and was doing well when Sheila turned up. Sheila wanted to try something on but thought it didn’t suit her. Eva, who had brought the dress from the storeroom, held it up against herself and it suited her. Sheila was furious when she thought she saw Eva smirk at her and ordered the manager to sack Eva or she would no longer shop there and would make her mother close their account with them. Sheila possesses Anger and Envy. Sheila’s fiancé, Gerald, is also mixed up in things. The insp...


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... realising the inspector was not a policeman and that the whole thing was hoax. Sheila and Eric try to convince them to change one last time but they insist that nothing has changed. Then the phone rings. Mr Birling answers it and appears shocked. He puts the phone down and turns around. He then informs the others that the police had just phoned. A girl had died after drinking some disinfectant. A police inspector was going to ask them some questions.
I think the inspector was a ghost come to warn the Birlings of their selfishness and untruthfulness before the actual policeman came round. To add to this, his last name was Goole with the same pronunciation as ghoul as in ghostly spirit.
This twist and the rest of the features in the play help us to understand the saying “no man is an island” is a very important lesson that should apply to us all.

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