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

1st draft How does J B Priestly use the characters in Act Three of An Inspector Calls to explore the theme of social responsibility.

Extracts from this document...


1st draft How does J B Priestly use the characters in Act Three of An Inspector Calls to explore the theme of social responsibility By Chris Butler Guilt is not the major issue put forward in the play. The major issue is how class-conscious England has been put forward in the play and how the Capitalists and Socialists are shown. Birling is a ruthless industrialist who worked extremely hard to make his money. Birling is almost the stereotype/caricature of the capitalistic businessman. As Eric re-enters the dining room the atmosphere is very tense and distressing. It is now clear to the audience why the Inspector chose his interrogation method- encouraging Mrs Birling to tell him how to punish the person who did it. "The young man who got this girl into trouble" And how "He should be made an example of" It is only after Mrs. Birling has finished saying that sentence that she realises that Eric is the 'young man' and she is utterly shocked and appalled that Eric could do such a thing, as well as worried what impression Gerald is getting, Gerald's opinion is very important to Mrs. Birling as he is from a socially superior background. As Eric retells his story Mr and Mrs Birling are shocked to learn that Eric drinks heavily where as Sheila appears to have know for a few months. This shows just how close the parents are to their children. "No, that's not fair, Eric I could have told her months ago but of course I didn't." The audience would not see any thing wrong with Eric's drinking habit as they could afford to drink, and they would have realised at the end of Act One as they watched Eric slowly getting more and more drunk. ...read more.


As the Inspector leaves the family start to query as to whether he was an actual inspector, even Sheila and Eric are suspicious because it was exactly after Mr. Birling had said "A man has to make his own way, look after himself and mind his own business, and not to take any notice of these cranks." That the Inspector arrived, Sheila being an intelligent girl says slowly "it's queer - very queer -" and looks at the rest of the family reflectively. This shows that the younger generations do have open minds and care more for other people. She benefits from the Inspector's visit and if another inspector were to come, then she would immediately tell the truth. She has learnt not to hide things from people. I think that she will try to improve her family's relationship and help people in need, treating everybody with the same respect. We can tell that the parent's attitudes have not changed when they start to talk about covering all of the mess up. "Well, if he wasn't, it matters a devil of a lot. Makes all the difference" And then Mrs. Birling goes on to say that the Inspector was too rude to be true "Well, I must say his manner was quite extraordinary; so - so rude - and assertive-" To Portray some more of his ideas. J B Priestley uses Edna to get across some of his ideas Mr. Birling is in a state of distress and is angered when the doorbell rings and is extremely annoyed that he may have to answer the door. But Mrs Birling had told Edna to wait until the inspector had left, just so that she could make the family a pot of tea. ...read more.


Mr. Birling has returned to being nervous after he thought he had disproved Inspector Goole's hoax, because this might be the actual Inspector and he might not get his Knighthood, and that he is not out of the clear and his two children will just admit to every thing. The effect of the second phone call to the Birling's home is to re-open the story and leave talking points like: Who is the Inspector?, Will the Birlings try to persuade their children to conceal the truth from the real Inspector who is coming?, Will Sheila and Eric insist on openness?, Will this be Inspector Goole be playing another hoax?, Is Inspector Goole some sort of supernatural being? And how will the family act towards the new Inspector? It is also to make the audience think about the moral of J B Priestley's play, and to treat people of all classes with respect, as they have feelings to. J B Priestley also plays with the idea that the Inspector is supernatural, it has be commented that Goole may have been a pun on Geist; spirit in death or ghoul, as they both said in the same way. This is Priestley's way of saying that it is up to the younger generation of society to change because older people are a lot more resistant and attached to their lifestyle. During the course of the play Arthur Birling, the rich industrialist, representative of all such figures in society, becomes Priestley's mouthpiece for ideas as suggests that social classes be forgotten. This would have caused a huge stir in the audiences watching his play in 1946, and would have persuaded some of the audience to see the error of their ways. Page 1 ...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. Marked by a teacher

    How does Priestley explore the theme of social responsibility in his play An Inspector ...

    4 star(s)

    In the subsequent sections Priestley reiterates his theme by showing us how ignorant the Birlings are. Priestley starts the merciless demolition of the Birlings' arrogance with the arrival of the Inspector and the news of Eva Smith's death. The writer chooses Mr.

  2. In what ways does Priestley explore responsibility in An Inspector Calls?

    'Well, it's my duty to keep labour costs down..' Birling's revealing use of the word 'duty'. A duty is normally thought of as something which people do for legal or moral reasons, something which binds them to their obligations. Clearly, Birling has no legal obligation to keep labour costs down; presumably then he sees it as a moral obligation.

  1. Free essay

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

    point the majority of the audience wouldn't have realised the father of Eva's child is in fact Eric. To give this away, The Inspector says: "only a youngster - silly and wild and drinking too much" Shelia's shocked reaction obviously shows she knows it's Eric who is the father, and by this the audience also realise.

  2. Compare and contrast two characters from the play "An Inspector Calls". Explain how Priestly ...

    Miss Birling was involved in Eva Smiths death as she refused her a claim as Eva Smith found she was pregnant and applied for help to a charity. The head of the charity (Mrs Birling) refused her help because she didn't believe her as she lied about her name and then used Birling as her name as well.

  1. The Inspector Says "We're all responsible for each other". Mr Birling Says "A man ...

    The inspector's remarkable knowledge of Eva and techniques in putting the characters under pressure - making them shatter under the spotlight, make him and his reason for being there inhuman. This character is almost perfect. His grand conclusion - "each one of you helped kill this girl" is very dramatic.

  2. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    These props and stage settings show us a lot about the Birling household and the environment that the inspector is about to walk into. At the beginning of the play, the Birlings are celebrating the engagement of their daughter Sheila to Gerald Croft the heir to a successful and wealthy business.

  1. Priestley uses a 'Whodunit' genre to explore social problems. How does he do this ...

    that nonsense...a man has to look after himself and mind his own business". At this point Inspector Goole is at the Birling's front door; Priestley introduces the character through the use of a very significant chime of the doorbell. The chime is sharp, sudden and interrupts Birling at that particular moment in his speech.

  2. How does Priestly portray Mr Birling in Act 1?

    set; work was possibly more important than man?s children especially as he has worked from lower class to the upper class he is in now. After reading act one, we know that Mr Birling announces many speeches, much to the rest of the families dismay however, Mr Birling is described

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