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An Inspector calls Compare and contrast the way in which Arthur and Sheila Birling respond to the Inspectors interrogation

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An Inspector calls Compare and contrast the way in which Arthur and Sheila Birling respond to the Inspectors interrogation This essay is going to look at the way in which, Sheila and Arthur Birling respond to the Inspectors interrogation. The play, written by J.B. Priestley, unfolds with the Birlings and Gerald Croft setting around the dinner table. The Birlings are celebrating their daughter Sheila Birlings engagement to Gerald Croft, of Crofts limited. During the play an Inspector visits the Birlings. His role in the play is to try and change the characters of the Birling family and make them realise how their actions affect others. He resorts to ripping off their exterior masks that we humans frequently wear, he relentlessly pursues the truth. Priestly is very clever in the way he uses the Inspector as a dramatic device in the play. The Inspector plays the role of a narrator and unifies the structure of the play. He sums up for us what has happened so far. He also steers the inquiry back on track as each of the member of the family attempts to digress from discussing the suicide of Eva Smith. The Inspector irritates Mr and Mrs Birling parents in particular with his cool comments and questions that usually suggest he is waiting for more, which they usually supply. Although the language of "An Inspector calls" is that of simple everyday speech, the Inspector uses gruesome imagery for dramatic effect. For example, he first talks of the "poison that burnt her inside out", to Mr Birling, Eric and Gerald. Another good example is when the Inspector speaks to Sheila Birling of Eva Smith's "great agony", tells Sheila that "she died after several hours of agony", and mentions what was "left of Eva Smith... a nasty mess, and her misery and agony". By using these gruesome words the Inspector tries to appeal to their conscience. ...read more.


This demonstrates that he does not care about Eric or how he is feeling but shows us that Mr Birling does not want to save or help Eric but to save himself from social scandal. In the play we see that Arthur Birling does not change his views or attitude over the course of the play. Though he reveals more of his contempt and his anger at the foolish behaviour of others, he cannot see that his action towards the girl was wrong, and we (the audience) see that if the events were repeated again, he would still feel justified in sacking the girl. He feels this was, and still is, the right attitude for a man of business. After the Inspector has gone he wants everything to return to normal. He cannot understand Sheila's and Eric's persistence that 'something' has to be learned. He is relived when he feels that the scandal has been avoided and everything is all right. J.B. Priestly lets us see someone who is completely wrong and never really in control of events, as he would like others and himself to believe. At the end of the play there is no change in Arthur's character as he is still the self - centred, selfish and repentant.. At the end of the play Mr Birling thinks every thing is all right and goes back to the way the way he was before the Inspectors arrival 'This makes a difference, y'know". In fact, it makes all the difference'. They do not realise that whether a girl has been killed or not, the main reason for the Inspectors visit was for them to realise that they have to take responsibility for their actions, whether you are rich or poor. Mr Birling does not realise this and goes back to his selfish, hardheaded character. He does not realise that what he does may destroy a person's life. ...read more.


Mr and Mrs Birling join Gerald in eagerly trying to improve their own situation by discrediting the Inspector. Emphasis is placed on the idea that it has all been a trick, so reducing the seriousness of the admissions they have all made 'well I must say his manners as quite extraordinary; so - so rude - and assertive' - The telephone at the end reopens the question of the Inspector's identity. The telephone call is also a dramatic device in the play. In the production of the play you could well expect the story to end after the revelations about Eric have been made and the Inspector leaves. In fact simply exploring adjustments to family relationships would probably end the play in a satisfactory way. But because Priestly's real intention was to influence his audience towards community responsibility, we are also made to work quite hard to understand and think about it afterwards - hopefully to learn something our selves. This type of play, when the writer is trying to teach the audience something, was common in the drama and literature of the first half of the twentieth century. Such works are called "didactic", and were written by authors such as Bernard Shaw and H.G Wells that Birlings refer to so scornfully. Priestly ends the play with a twist, another phone call form the police. The suspense and beauty of this play is that Priestly always keeps us guessing during the play and he has done exactly the same with the ending of the play, he has left us wondering if the same Inspector will come to question them again and if Gerald and the Birlings will be able to keep their knowledge to themselves, but more importantly have they learnt and understood why the Inspector was here, in addition will they take the inspectors knowledge and use it for their own purpose possibly to make the lives working class families a little easier, and for them to take responsibility for their actions. Saheda Parvin 11.8 ...read more.

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