• 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 ...

    "you'll hear some people say that war's inevitable. And to that I say - fiddlesticks! The German's don't want war." Maybe so, pompous even, which would also work in hand with his ignorance of the "real world". Although to counteract that, it could be suggested that if Birling had been in the workers situation - as he had

  2. Discuss this view of responsibility, guilt and blame in ‘An Inspector Calls’ and discuss ...

    of his daughter's fianc�e, Lady Croft, who is already, part of the aristocracy. Therefore, it can be seen that by marrying Gerald Croft, Sheila is playing a part in the families' social climbing. Another aim of writing the play was to comment on the changing role of women in this era.

  1. How do various attitudes reflect Social, Cultural and Historical values, both of the time ...

    This is why he is unable to accept responsibility for what happens to Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, and the Inspector - who arrives in the middle of one of Birling's speeches - can be seen as Priestly's response to his ideas.

  2. Discuss the role of the Inspector in the play ‘An Inspector Calls’.

    to suspect something and Mr Birling finds out there isn't an inspector Goole on the force and then the Birlings get the phone call that tells them that a young women has killed herself and an inspector is on their way round to question them about it, This pretty much

  1. Explore the function of Inspector Goole in ‘An Inspector Calls’

    The Inspector's arrival creates dramatic tension and is perfectly timed, it is important because we get our first impression of him. We have no idea from the dialogue beforehand that something out of the ordinary is going to happen. The Birling family plus Gerald are having a little celebration and

  2. How does J. B Priestly Turn What He Has Seen, thought and felt ...

    the working class or else they would have been asking for the Earth, the inspector replies, "They might. But after all it's better to ask for the Earth than to take it."

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

    But for Eva this worked out to her convenience, as we know. The strike and the way Mr Birling handles it just shows what type of character he is. His main and only concern throughout the strike is money and this just shows how hard-hearted he is.

  2. What Makes An Inspector Calls An Effective Piece Of Social Criticism As Well As ...

    It has good solid furniture of the period. The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not Cosy and homelike." This is evidenced in act one, page 1 at the start of the play. They also have a made called Edna. This shows that they belong to a wealthy family and they can afford a maid.

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