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An Inspector Calls' has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised?

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls' has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised? The play is set in Edwardian England and aims to expose the social criticisms of the time. Just before World War 1, with the Titanic, an apparently unsinkable ship, ready to set sail, on her first voyage in a few weeks, which as we now know, did actually sink. This possibly showing the upper class' arrogance, that they were far superior to any other person. The play begins with the Birlings' celebrating the engagement of Sheila their daughter, to a wealthy young man, Gerald Croft. The Birlings' appear to be a reasonably joyful family but they are so involved in themselves that they fail to notice that anything that is going on around them until an inspector calls. Inspector Goole cleverly visits the family while they are celebrating the engagement in a cheerful mood. This could signify that the upper classes are too busy having a good time and not thinking about the rest of the world, that they have to be brought back to reality by something 'horrible' happening; in this case, the death of Eva Smith, a working-class girl. ...read more.

Middle

Birling says, "I don't suppose for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class-", displaying, appropriately, the attitudes of the people in higher classes towards those in lower class'. Mrs. Birling, is the head of an establishment that helps women who are in distress, but she only does it so that she is seen to be giving something back into society, this is purely because she is trying to look like she is a caring, upper class woman. When Eva was pregnant, she went to Mrs Birling's charity for financial aid. Eva, without knowing, used Mrs. Birlings' name, Mrs. Birling, appalled by the girls' cheek, decided not to help her. She was dismayed that 'a girl of that status' would imagine to use the name Birling. Mrs Birlings lack of regard for people shows that she can only be the head of the establishment because all she wants is power, not because she cares for people, and is consequently not worthy of this role within the establishment. Mrs Birling is a prime example of women during this period. Similar to her husband, she believes that she is superior, due to wealth and thinks this qualifies her to be respected, held in awe and make judgments on people's lives as she so wishes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Priestly is trying to show that this is what will continue to happen in society if we do not learn from our mistakes. Between the years when the play was set and the play was written; 1912-1945, the country experienced World Wars, unrest, Depression, the atomic bomb, fascism and the Holocaust. By 1945 it was possible to look back and see that a full circle had taken place, that an uncaring society had helped each other to survive the devastation of wars and worse. This emphasises on the point of how significant it is that we care for each other and do not just think of ourselves, but instead help others who are in more need than ourselves. The play is unquestionably a social assessment, criticising the class system, the attitudes of the rich towards the poor, the way society tries to shift blame to others and the insincerity of people. Society puts on a disguise, that Inspector Goole broke down, by exposing the Birlings' to make them realise and aware about the effect their actions had towards other people and making them aware that in reality and effect, everyone is equal, no matter of social standing or role in society. Simon Herbert 11RP ...read more.

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