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An inspector calls by J.B. Priestley

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An inspector calls by J.B. Priestley "An inspector calls" is a play about a family called the Birlings and how they have all been involved with a girl who has committed suicide. The Birling family consists of Arthur Birling, his wife Sybil, their two children Eric and Sheila Birling and their maid Edna. The play involves all the typical murder mystery qualities but steps outside of what was a 'normal' genre. It was written in 1945 but it was set round about two years before the First World War (1912); this is revealed by the following quotes said by Arthur Birling: 'the titanic- she sails next week', 'in twenty or thirty years' time - let say in 1940'. The play is also an example of dramatic irony; this means that the audiences know something whereas the characters on stage don't. (E.g. Arthur think the Titanic is 'unsinkable', however, the audiences know that it sank as the play was written about thirty years after it sank). We are aware of that the Birling family is somewhat wealthy as Mr. Birling owns his own business and they lived in 'a fairly large suburban house, belonging to a prosperous manufacturer'. In the play Mr. Birling describes himself as 'a hard-headed, practical man of business, his actions, language and general attitude which is arrogant, vein, naive and is that of a stereotypical businessman of that era. ...read more.


A quote which proves this is when Mr. Birling says '(they wanted the rates raised... I refused, of course)'. So his employees went on strike demanding higher wages but also suffered the consequences, as revealed in the following quotes; 'so was the strike after a week or two- pitiful affair', '(we let them come back...except the four or five ring-leaders, who'd started trouble)'. He fired Eva Smith because she '(was one of them... so she had to go)', he does not feel guilty whatsoever, and Gerald agrees with him that he was doing the right thing as he says 'you couldn't have done anything else'. Mr. Birling's daughter, Sheila, has also played a significant part in Eva's death. When Eva smith was working at Milward as an assistant, Sheila was jealous because Eva 'held the dress up, as if she was wearing it' and it just suited her. Eva was 'a very pretty girl- with big dark eyes ' as Sheila described, and it didn't help when Sheila 'caught sight of this girl smiling -as if to say: Doesn't she look awful'. This quote shows how Sheila was 'absolutely furious', so she went to the manager and got Eva sacked. We know this because of this quote: 'I went to the manager at Millwards and I told him that if he didn't get rid of the girl I would never shop there again'. ...read more.


We also know that Mrs. Birling wasn't upset or cared in the least proved by this quote ' I did nothing I'm ashamed of'. The difference between the younger characters is that the older characters like Mr. And Mrs. Birling are a lot more old fashioned and are more concerned about themselves and what people will think of them. While Sheila and Eric are more concerned about what happened to Eva and are ashamed. At the end of the play all Gerald and Mr. And Mrs. Birling think about is how this will affect their business, life's and reputation as they don't want anyone to find out what they did while Sheila and Eric disagree they think that even if the girl was ok what they did was wrong. If this happened in these times for a start Eva wouldn't have got fired because there are unions and fair rights for women and workers now. Also a shop owner could not fire an employee without a very good reason not for one like Sheila's. Another thing is that there is help available for the unemployed especially if they are young single mothers. I think that what the Birlings did to Eva was wrong but it reflected what it was like at the time as women workers didn't have the same rights they were often seen as cheap labour. I think that the younger members of the family have more moral while the older are quite heartless. ...read more.

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