• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

‘An Inspector Calls’ has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised?

Extracts from this document...


'An Inspector Calls' has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised? 'An Inspector Calls' is a play written in 1942 about a retrospective time just before the First World War. This was at a time in history when the industrialists had extensive power, and the working classes were destitute and disadvantaged. Through the play, Priestly sends a political message about society, criticising many things. The play begins with the Birlings' celebrating the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, to Gerald Croft, a wealthy, well bred young man. The Birlings' appear to be a reasonably happy family but they are so wrapped up in themselves that they fail to notice that anything that is going on around them until an inspector calls. Inspector Goole cleverly visits the family while they are celebrating the engagement in high spirits. This could signify that the upper classes are too busy having a good time and not thinking about the rest of the world, that they have to be brought back to reality by something 'horrible' happening; in this case, the death of Eva Smith, a working-class girl. ...read more.


In 1912, when the play was set, class was a major issue among society and everyone was placed in definite class boundaries. Mrs. Birling says, "I don't suppose for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class-", displaying, aptly, the attitudes of the people in higher classes towards those in lower class. Mrs. Birling is the head of an organisation that helps all women in distress, but she only does it so that she appears to be putting something back into society because she wants to look like she is a caring, upper class woman. When Eva was pregnant, she went to Mrs Birling's charity for financial aid. Eva unwittingly used Mrs. Birlings' name, and Mrs. Birling, horrified by the girls' nerve, decided not to help her. She was disgusted that 'a girl of that status' would presume to use the name Birling. Her lack of regard for people shows that she is only the head of the organisation because she wants power, not because she cares for people, and therefore she does not deserve this position. ...read more.


Through those in power she was used more as an object than a human being until she was of no further use, and then discarded. Priestly wanted to show that this will continue to happen if we do not learn from our mistakes. Between the years when the play was set and the play was written; 1912-1945, the country experienced World Wars, unrest, Depression, the atomic bomb, fascism and the Holocaust. By 1945 it was possible to look back with hindsight and see that a full circle had taken place: an uncaring society had helped each other to survive the devastation of wars and worse. This emphasises how important it is that we care for each other and don't just think of ourselves, but help others who are weaker than ourselves. The play is undeniably a social critique, criticising the class system, the attitudes of the rich, the way society tries to shift blame to others and the hypocrisy of people. Society puts on a fa�ade, and Inspector Goole broke down the Birlings' grand exterior to open up their eyes, making them aware of reality and showing them that in effect, everyone is equal. Roopa Modi Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Free essay

    "AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of ...

    to work his way to the top - making it feel that he might have some knowledge of what its like. Unfortunately, this never seems to appear and reiterates Priestly point about the wealthy being, more than selfish to say the least.

  2. Both Mr Birling from ‘An Inspector Calls’ and Ebenezer Scrooge from a Christmas Carol ...

    He goes on to say that his life only consists of himself and no one else. Both Birling and Scrooge own businesses. Birling is proud of his business and talks about it nearly all the time in the play. He thinks about it more than he thinks about his family and it means a lot to him.

  1. Examine the role of Eva in ‘An Inspector Calls’

    In this job she wasn't stuck to a chair all day working in dangerous conditions she had freedom to move and this is what she enjoyed. But one of the problems surrounding the job was there was no trade union and this was really going to affect her later on.

  2. Imagine that you are directing a production of ‘An Inspector Calls’. Write to the ...

    a deep voice and put down his rules in a loud deep voice, an example of this is when you lay down the rule of Eric working for nothing till the �50 was paid back in full. With Sheila you should talk to in not much anger, as you know

  1. An Inspector Calls By J.B Priestly - The play has been described as a ...

    Mr Birling used her as cheap labour, and fired her when she wanted a better pay. Sheila regarded her as someone who could be fired out of spite and pride. Gerald treated her, as a mistress who could be discarded at will.

  2. The Main Themes in ‘An Inspector Calls’

    Sheila, before she sees the photo of Eva, say; ' You talk as if we were responsible-.' Then, when she is shown the picture, she is shocked and cannot say anything and runs out, but when she comes back she says; 'you knew it was me all the time, didn't you?'

  1. ''An Inspector Calls' has been described as a play of social criticism - What ...

    After being sacked, Eva had found a job at Milwards, but also got fired from there after an encounter with Mr. Birling's daughter; Sheila. She was irrationally jealous of how pretty Eva was, and complained to the manager, saying that Eva had been rude to her.

  2. What is the Function of the Inspector in ‘An Inspector Calls’?

    Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable', this makes Birling the anti-hero. Birling expresses the opposite to Priestley's views. Birling seemed glorious at the beginning of the play, he is arrogant and out spoken, and this is sent crashing down by the Inspectors confidence and 'massiveness'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work