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An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley - To what extent is each character responsible for Eva's death? To what extent does each character learn from his/her experience?

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Kumar Shah An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley To what extent is each character responsible for Eva's death? To what extent does each character learn from his/her experience? An Inspector Calls is written by J.B Priestley to show his audience the social and moral responsibility. It was set in the 1900's; he wanted to make people more aware about their responsibilities to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated, for example the making of the world wars and complacency involved in the sinking of the Titanic. "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." Priestly uses this phrase to get through to his audience. This is so that everyone can ensure a healthy future. Priestley is also saying indirectly through the play that every action has a consequence; this is shown throughout the play. The Birling family represent the wealthy upper class society. Eva Smith represents billions of working class people. The Birling family are complacent and irresponsible like most of the upper class society. They bring disaster upon others; Eva Smith faces greed, jealousy, selfishness and sloth from each member of the Birling family. Only two members of the Birling family are able to accept their responsibility. Priestley shows the clashing of two societies and the consequences of what will happen if they do not work together; Priestley is trying to give this message in the play. Mr. Birling, the head of the family is the most responsible, he is the one that started the chain of events that made Eva Smith crumble. Mr. Birling shows that he is irresponsible in his role as a factory owner, he sacks Eva for protesting out of selfishness and greed. "It's my duty to keep labour costs down." This is irresponsible as it is out of spite, but with the status and wealth it was normal in the 1900's for this type of malpractice to take place. ...read more.


Another characteristic borrowed from Mr. Birling is his need to control. He like Mr. Birling is trying to also keep the wealth at the top of the social hierarchy, he agrees on most of his attitudes on society. "Why should you? It's bound to be unpleasant and disturbing." Gerald is controlling and is trying to hide the fact that he betrayed his fianc�. Gerald maybe controlling, but he is using it to make sure that his reputation and his relationship with his fianc� is not ruined. He did not think about the consequences of his action. He admits that has done wrong by saying it is bound to be unpleasant and disturbing. Gerald like Mr. Birling represents the wealthy businessmen in a wealthy society. At that time in the 1900's it was the time where 'women were kept in the kitchen', Gerald tries to protect Sheila from unpleasant and disturbing things. He tries to hide the truth from Sheila about his affair, this shows that he is controlling over Sheila. He cares for Sheila this is shown when he is trying to hide the truth from her, as he does not want her to get hurt. Gerald reacts with an outbreak to control Sheila. He does not want his relationship and future marriage to fall apart. All actions have consequence he has to realise this. Once inspector Goole makes Gerald face the truth he admits that is what actually happened. However once the truth is out that Inspector Goole is not real he thinks that all that has been brought out that night is fictitious and there is no sufficient truth to back up what has really happened. Gerald is also concerned that the truth of his affair will affect his future life with Sheila. "Where do you get the idea that I know her?" Gerald is yet again showing that he loves Sheila. ...read more.


Birling's selfishness and pride she is dead. Initially Mrs. Birling denies her involvement and fails to see the truth. Mrs. Birling yet again is too proud she takes a stand by being difficult with the Inspector by not answering all of his questions. Her proud attitude is due to her status, because of her status she feels more powerful than 'normal people'. As Mrs. Birling does not acknowledge her involvement, she does not feel guilt, as she does not feel guilt she cannot learn from this experience. The inspector is not real so Mrs. Birling dismisses what has happened. She mocks her children, as they are the one who are feeling guilty. "In the morning they'll be as amused as we are." Yet again she shows that she has not morally matured. She does not think of what she has done to Eva as any real importance and does not take any experience from it to learn from. She also thanks Gerald who made them think they were out of public humiliation. "And I must say Gerald you have argued this very cleverly and I'm most grateful." She has not learned at all. She denies everything like Mr. Birling. She has no conscience. Eric and Sheila seem o have learnt the most from this experience. This would suggest that Priestly believes that the younger generation were the people that would lead the community and act as 'one body'. Priestly is sending that message throughout the play. He is also trying to say that people like the Inspector, people who bring out what morally has been done will make an impression. He is also saying that the younger generation are more impressionable. Priestley is saying that the younger generation are the future that they need to be moulded in decent caring people and taught basic principles so that they so not make mistakes that have been produced by the older generation. He is saying that socially the younger generation learn a lot more though their experiences, and by doing this will pave the way for a better society. ...read more.

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