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‘We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’ What is Priestly’s main aim in An Inspector Calls? Is he successful in so doing?

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Introduction

'We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.' What is Priestly's main aim in An Inspector Calls? Is he successful in so doing? J.B. Priestly was a writer born 13th September 1894 and died in 1984 aged 89. Throughout his life he wrote an abundance of novels and plays, which were admired by many. From a young age, Priestley wanted to write. He left school at 16 instead of going on to university, he thought that out of the confines of the classroom would come his inspiration to write. His father mixed with socialist friends and from an early start he was exposed to many political conversations. These usually turned into heated arguments, in which he joined and expressed his opinion. In his autobiography he said; ' I was politically-minded to some extent but never able to put politics first'. By this Priestly probably meant that even though he had a love for politics he wasn't as passionate about it as writing. At the beginning of his career, his works did not seem to reflect politics, but after a few years politics crept back in, such as in An Inspector Calls. At a first quick glance the story of the play looks like a typical murder mystery of coincidence and deception; An affluent industrialist, Arthur Birling, lives at home with his wife and their two grown children Sheila and Eric. ...read more.

Middle

He wanted everyone to look after each other 'Just because she had a bit more spirit than the others. You said yourself she was a good worker. I'd have let her stay.' Said Eric in defence of Eva. Each individual in the play was a caricature of the people of the day he wanted to expose and possibly try to change. The play was set in 1912 but written in 1944 and performed in October 1945. If this was to be a simple detective story why was it not set in the present time? The answer to that was easy. Priestly had lived and fought in the two of the world's bloodiest wars. He had therefore witnessed the changes in people's attitudes before and after. Before the war, society was very divided. Everyone was expected to have his or her own place. There was a working class (the Eva Smith or Daisy Rentons) the middle class (the Birlings) and the upper class (the Crofts). Before the war, Priestly's audience would have been much more restricted to what it was after the war. This was because before, only the upper and middle class went to the theatre. The war brought people more closely together and they were forced into letting the class barriers fall. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike Mr. and Mrs. Birling and even Gerald, Eric and Sheila showed remorse for what they had done and felt sorry for the working class. Even at the beginning, Eric sticks up for Eva when his father scorned her: 'She still had rights' Eric said to his father. Sheila could not believe what she and her family did and when she found out it was a hoax she would not let it go and was shocked at how her family dismissed it. She knew that their actions and attitude would not solve anything: 'You're pretending everything's just as it was before' she said passionately. In conclusion, I think Priestley was successful in conveying the injustices of the class system at this point in time. The audience is made aware of his strong beliefs in equality. The responsibility we have for one another and how closely we are connected is a central theme. These are the two main issues in the play. The audience is left wondering just who the inspector was - if he was real or just a figment of their imagination. I believe that the inspector was a manifestation of their consciences and prompted them to admit the truth and realise the error of their ways. Although Priestley knew that he could not alter everyone's perceptions of society, he had faith in the youth who would react more kindly to his philosophy and hoped in the future for a more caring and united country. Laura Miles 10ND 1 ...read more.

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