• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestly.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestly * The reaction of Mr. and Mrs. Birling to the death of Eva Smith differs strongly from the reaction s shown by their children, Eric and Sheila. Compare and contrast the reactions of the two generations. Include in your account their reaction to the inspector. Comment on his role in the play, and the impression he makes on the four family members, showing their character development throughout the play. Priestly's play is about responsibility. His message is that we should be supportive of each other so when he created the Berling family he deliberately created characters that reflected what was wrong with society as he saw it. He sets the play in 1912 and through this he shows a modern audience how silly and arrogant Mr. and Mrs. Berling appear. This was a time of optimism for people like the berlings but in reality they were only two years away from the First World War. Priestly wrote his play in 1945 disgusted that people didn't learn their lesson the first time. J.B.Priestly's play is set in the household of an upper-middle class family in the north of England. The plot of this dramatic play is based around the Birling family's involvement in a young girl's suicide. The Birling family consists of the two parents, Arthur and Sybil Birling and their two children Eric and Sheila. Gerald Croft is soon to become a member of the family as he has recently announced his engagement to Sheila. As the story unfolds we find that each of the family members is partly to blame. Mr Birling is described by Priestly as 'heavy looking, rather portentous...in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners....rather provincial in his speech.' Mr. Birling is a posporous factory owner and is not the social equal of his wife, he is a 'self made man' and at first he is happy to accept Gerald into the family as he is a business link to a rival company, that of Gerald's fathers. ...read more.

Middle

As she feels so guilty when in fact she did relatively little. She also continues to feel guilty after learning that there was not an Eva Smith. She still feels that her acts were immoral and that they should not have done everything which they had done as it may have affected someone else. Her response to the tragedy is one of the few encouraging things to come out of the play. She is genuinely upset when she hears of Eva's death and learns from her own behaviour. Sheila is very distressed by the girl's suicide and thinks that her father's behaviour was unacceptable. She readily agrees that she behaved very badly and insists that she never meant the girl any harm. The Inspector says that she is only partly responsible and later on, when he is about to question Gerald, he encourages her to stay and listen to what he has to say so that she doesn't feel entirely responsible. Not only is she prepared to admit her faults, she also appears keen and anxious to change her behaviour in the future, 'I'll never, never do it again' Sheila is aware of the mystery surrounding the Inspector, yet realises that there is no point in trying to hide the facts from him. She is unable to accept her parent's attitude and is both amazed and concerned that they haven't learned anything from the episode. Although the Inspector might be a hoax, the family have still behaved in an entirely unsuitable manner. She learns of her responsibilities to others less fortunate than herself and is sensitive. Her readiness to learn from experience is in great contrast to her parents. Sheila Berling is one of the more sensitive characters in Priestly's play as she becomes fully aware of her responsibility and despite her parents she is prepared to change her selfish ways. Eric Birling was associated with Eva due to his relationship with her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst Mr and Mrs Birling respond negatively to the Inspector's message of common responsibility, our faith is restored by the children's positive attitudes. Eric and Sheila symbolise hope for the future. The fact that they remorsefully admit to sinning against Eva Smith suggests that they (and the future generation of adults) will make a conscious effort at improving human relations. Unlike their parents, who are bent on only creating and sustaining material wealth, they will endeavour to create and sustain spiritual, meaningful social relationships by fulfilling their moral obligations towards their fellow men - especially those oppressed and desperate people such as Eva Smith. Inspector Goole's remark, 'But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it.' is important and we should all learn from it because Eva Smith does represent millions of similarly desperate people "with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and say and do. We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." Goole reminds us that if man will not learn the lesson of "common responsibility", then "they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." In the final analysis, it becomes evident that success for the future lies with the younger generation. Whilst Mr Birling, to the very end, insists on regarding the Inspector's visit as a 'joke', it is Eric who restores our hope when he says "And I say the girl's dead and we all helped to kill her - and that's what matters -." Eric's admission confirms that Inspector Goole's visit was justified and that valuable lessons were learned. He proves to be a powerful force, a catalyst whose skilful and disciplined investigative approach is both instrumental and victorious in initiating positive change in the hearts, the minds and the attitudes of Eric and Sheila and thereby increases our optimism and faith that disadvantaged people will in the future be treated with dignity and respect. Assan Hussain GCSE English Literature coursework 10/05/2007 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    After coming back into the room, she is very sincere with everybody. Sheila answers his questions and queries as honestly as she can, she is genuinely sorry for what she did to Eva Smith and for contributing to her death, 'Yes but it didn't seem to be anything very terrible at the time.

  2. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector ...

    She has changed from taking the blame and wanting to know how the girl died to not even having any concern about Eva Smith. Sheila again is acting like the rest of her family who don't care about the lower class.

  1. Free essay

    "AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of ...

    For example, to impress The Inspector Mrs Birling becomes almost brutal when describing ways to punish the father of Eva's child - all to show her "power" and "intellect" she so rightfully has. Even there own child's wedding was more of a business deal.

  2. Do you agree that Eva Smith is presented as a victimin the play 'An ...

    The Inspector makes final speech upon departing. It is a moving and thought provoking speech. I think that the Inspector represents the voice of Priestly as he was a strong socialist. "One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths...with their lives...intertwined with our lives...We are members of one body.

  1. 'An Inspector Calls' - how does Priestly resent the character of Goole? If ...

    In reality Mr. Birling is a greedy man who is cold hearted and only thinks of no one but himself. Near the end of the play Birling begins to feel sorry for Eva Smith, the inspectors visit had brought out Mr.

  2. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    In the area when the inspector arrives into the room as Gerald and Sheila are discussing why he recognises the name Eva Smith, the inspector ends the scene with a simple question 'why?' Tension is on the increase, firstly Gerald's affair is unveiled and the scandal it would cause and

  1. An Inspector calls - character analysis.

    and is now 'troubled' by his behaviour (p.39) and asks to be on his own. By this point in the play, both he and Sheila - who have each admitted their guilt to others and to themselves - 'aren't the same people who sat down to dinner here' (p.40).

  2. An inspector calls by J.B. Priestly - Who killed Eva Smith?

    'First, the girl herself', and 'Secondly, I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have'. She ironically tells the inspector, as she did Eva, to 'Go and look for the father of the child', she doesn't realise of course that she's speaking of her own son, Eric.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work