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An Inspector Calls

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John Boyton priestly wrote the play 'An inspector calls' in 1945, but the actual story is set in 1912, two years before the world war. The reason for this is to show the events, which have already happened that the audience already have knowledge of, such as the sinking of the titanic and the outbreak of the war. John Boyton priestly was born in Bradford in 1894 and died in 1984.He was a socialist who believed capitalism was foolish. Throughout this play, Priestly shows his hatred towards upper-class people. In those days which the play was set in, Britain was divided into class systems, the lower class being the poor ho worked in factories and had very little to earn in life with no way of going up a class, this is represented by Eva Smith in the play. The middle-class being the business owners and making profit, this is shown by the Birling family and the richest being the upper class portrayed by Gerald Croft. Priestly wanted to ensure life after the war was better than before and he hoped that through his writing he could influence peoples ideas and change society. Although he wrote 'An inspector calls' in 1945 he deliberately set it in 1912 because that time represented that sort of society everybody wanted to leave behind. He was particularly concerned about the living conditions of lower classes. He believed that we should all help each other, which is the total opposite form, what the Birlings believed. He uses the inspector to symbolise the conscience of the nation and through him challenges each of the characters who represent a part of the society. He shows that change is more likely to come through the young generation (Sheila and Eric) rather than the older generation (Arthur and Sybil) or the upper classes symbolised by Gerald Croft. 'An inspector calls' is a play focusing on the respectable Birling family. ...read more.


Eva was getting " twenty two and six" which compared well with a bricklayers labourer who got eighteen shillings and a police constable who got twenty seven shillings a week. So in his eyes he was not underpaying his workers by the standards of 1910.He considered it his duty to keep labour costs down and stamp out any unrest among his workforce. In his factory, there are certain employees that ask for a pay rise, but Birling refuses to pay more than "the going rate". Birling can afford the pay rise, but Birling refuses to pay more than the "going rate". Although he can afford to give a pay rise, he sacks one of the "strike pack" members, Eva Smith. After this, Birling was blamed for starting the "domino" effect of Eva Smiths suicide, but refuses to accept the blame. When the inspector asks questions to/about his family, he tries to protect his reputation by acting the innocent to the questions, even though we know, that he knows the answers to the questions but wont tell them, to protect his reputation. After the inspector has gone, Birling simply wants things to return to the way they were. He can't understand Sheila's and Eric's insistence that there is something to be learnt, and he is relieved and triumphant when he feels that the scandal has been avoided and everything is all right. Right until the end, he claims "there's every excuse for what your mother and I did- it just turned out unfortunately, that's all". Birling does not care one bit and in no way thinks he is responsible for Eva Smith's death. When he finds about the suicide he sticks to his morals and is very stubborn. If he never found out that the inspector was a hoax he may have questioned his morals but once he finds out that the inspector is a fake he just slips back into his old ways. ...read more.


This could have been done to symbolise the truth being uncovered but also bringing the Birling to reality. The finishing paragraph of the play shows the consequences that could happen if people act arrogantly, and when warned (in this case by the inspector) they don't try to learn from their mistakes. The penultimate part of this play sums up the characters and summarises their behaviour throughout the play. Sheila's mature attitude was shown throughout the play, and her guilt and willingness to learn from her mistakes were also displayed. Sheila came out as a caring and thoughtful character and also an intelligent and realistic girl during and after the inspectorsvisit. Eric generally followed his sister, who emerged as a powerful character with moral beliefs, but their view came in conflict with the older generations. Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald. The older generation behaved irresponsibly, immature and insensibly towards the end of the play. The play was written in 1945, the final year of the Second World War. Priestly was trying to show the predominantly middle class audience that despite all the death and destruction of the Great War, the working class were no better off. The 1920s and 1930s were a time of unemployment, strikes and depression. This time around, priestly says, things could really improve if people were to become more socially responsible for the welfare of others. We have to confront our mistakes and learn from them. The fact that his use of time sometimes makes it seem as if events might have not yet happened and the characters might have had a chance to change their actions, reflect this- there was a second world war and people have a second chance to change things. The older generation of the Birlings represent those who failed to learn from the First World War, while Sheila and Eric are the younger generation who still have a chance to learn and change. In this play priestly has set out to show the failings of society during that time. ...read more.

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