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

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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.

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