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An Inspector Calls - Key Scene/Turning Point/ Theme

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An Inspector Calls - Key Scene/Turning Point/ Theme A major theme in the play ?An Inspector Calls? by J. B. Priestley is that of responsibility. The author?s message in the play is that society is interdependent and that we are each responsible for the welfare of all its members. He develops this theme through the experiences of the family of a wealthy, influential and ambitious industrialist, Arthur Birling. To understand the significance of the key scene and its relationship to the theme we must first set the scene in context. The stage directions at the beginning of the play describe the Birlings as ?pleased with themselves?. At first sight they have good reason to be: Arthur Birling is expecting to be knighted in the next honours list and his daughter, Sheila, is engaged to be married to the son of another wealthy and titled industrialist. This appeals not only to Mr Birling?s social class aspirations, but also to his capitalist values of ?lower costs and higher profits? through a potential merger. ...read more.


His atonement consists of offering the one of the few things that matters to him -money. As the Inspector says he offering it ?at the wrong time? meaning that if he had given the pay rise at the beginning Eva would have been alive. Thus Mr Birling?s values remain the same. Sheila?s values on the other hand change. When she becomes aware that Eva ended up destitute after she had her sacked in fit of jealousy she is full of remorse: It was my own fault . . . ?I?ll never, never do it again to anybody.? Sheila takes not only takes responsibility for her action, she is truly sorry for it. She sees how her thoughtlessness affected another human being and vows to change. Her values are also different from her father?s: ?these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people.? She is critical of his employment practices and his lust for profit. ...read more.


He mocks Sheila and Eric for their gullibility and the seriousness with which they take the Inspector?s message. 1. the famous younger generation who know it all. And they can?t even take a joke. In the final scene of the play, these words, which echo his irresponsible attitudes in the key scene, result in a call from a real police Inspector this time. The scandal and disgrace he wished to avoid will become his punishment for not taking the chance to redeem himself he was offered by accepting his part in Eva Smith?s death and learning the lessons of it. In conclusion, the key scene in the play ?An Inspector Calls? begins an examination of what responsibility for each other really means and what will happen if we do not accept that we are interdependent. Priestley?s warnings are dire but places his hopes in the young whose opinions and ideals can still be influenced and it is this which gives the ending of the play a sense of optimism. ...read more.

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