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An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector calls J.B. Priestley uses the role of Inspector Goole to put across his message of public responsibility and citizenship; he helps the characters to understand they all played a part in Eva Smith's suicide. He makes them feel guilty and doesn't give up until the message sinks in. In the 19th century society was divided by class distinction and J.B Priestley uses Inspector Goole as a staging device to portray his ideas. I think that the way the inspector talks to the Birlings is the way that Priestley would talk to them. Priestley was a socialist and believed in freedom and was for the poor, against the rich. "A pretty, lively sort of girl, who never did anybody any harm. But she died in misery and agony - hating life" - The inspector puts it very harshly how she died, and that she didn't deserve to die, but because of how the Birling family has acted, it resulted in a terrible tragedy. "Looking at what was left of Eva Smith, a nice little promising life there, I thought, and a nasty mess somebody's made of it" - Inspector Goole is saying that somebody has made a mess of her life, talking about responsibility and it was somebody's (or even a group of somebody's) fault. He is making them feel guilty as he said she had a good life ahead of her, but now she has no way of fulfilling it. The inspector says harshly "Yes but you can't, it's too late. She's dead" He uses short sentences to put it bluntly; making Sheila realise words can't take back anything. "I think that you did something terribly wrong and that you're going to spend the rest of your life regretting it" Inspector Goole makes their responsibilities sound so dramatic, and almost forces them to feel guilty by feeding them his opinion on how they were so heartless and self centered. ...read more.


After he is confronted he is in denial and refuses to take any blame or responsibility for what happened "I can't accept any responsibility if we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward". This shows he only cares about himself and doesn't see that he started it all off. He protects Sheila as he asks the inspector to leave her be but he wasn't one to protect Eva and shows that even if the same events were to happen again he would still fire her. He doesn't change his attitude or views, but reveals more of his anger at foolish behaviour of others, though he can't see the bad side to his own. When Sheila shows her guilt and compassion for the situation, Mr Birling only cares about why he is being brought into it "Yes, yes. Horrid business, but I don't understand why you should come here" This is after Sheila makes a heartfelt comment towards what she and her family have caused. Sheila and Eric both react in a similar way, although Sheila seems the most affected out of the family as she can't stop blaming herself, and not thinking about what the others have done. She grows as a person during the story and sees past Gerald's deceitfulness and is able to cope with it. Her realisation of truth and honestly have an effect on her as she shows she is capable of learning her lesson and changing for the better. She responds to Eva as a person, not cheap labour, and is prepared to criticise her father, showing she has the potential. "How could I know what would happen afterwards? If she'd been some miserable, plan, little creature, I don't suppose I'd have done it. But she was very pretty and looked as if she could take care of herself. ...read more.


their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness" and he can raise his voice and use an aggressive but not scaring expression as he says "If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire, blood and anguish" I would also have soft sounds of string instruments which, as he talks about fire, blood and anguish, will gradually develop louder, without overpowering the Inspector's voice. This will help engage members of the audience as they can listen carefully to what the Inspector says, the tone and the instruments will help to add a serious and dramatic effect to what he says. In the end, Eric and Sheila learn their lesson and the parents remain irresponsible and in denial. Mr Birling being more effected than Eric. Mrs Birling is only upset by the fact she's discovered her son is an alcoholic and that she has lost her own grandchild. Mr Birling is only affected by the fact his son owes him money, as he stole for Eva Smith. Sheila and Eric accept responsibility; they do not feel that anything has happened to relieve their guilt. They realise the seriousness of their actions and have taken the inspector's message to heart. They have an understanding that they need to change their behaviour in the future. Priestley's uses these two characters as symbols of the hope for a better future in the younger generation. This is a great learning curve for the future of the younger generation as it is obvious they are more aware of other people's feelings. Although they are more irresponsible with their actions, they are more willing and capable to learn from their lessons and other people's mistakes. People in the audience also learn from it because they are able to understand how they should act towards other people. It is good they are left with a clear and positive understanding of responsibility and what the consequences can bring if they act without care. ...read more.

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