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An Inspector Calls - Which of the characters (other than the Inspector) has learnt the most by the end of the play?

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Introduction

English Coursework An Inspector Calls Question: Which of the characters - other than the Inspector - has learnt the most by the end of the play? J.B. Priestley's production of An Inspector Calls challenges the social ideas of class, age and sex at that time, and the effect these factors have on the perception of a person by others. The play also talks about responsibility, and how the things we do and say nearly always come back on us one way or another. It is a good example of didactic theatre in which the play teaches the audience a lesson (hopefully a valuable one!). The play focuses on six main characters: * Mr. Arthur Birling: a wealthy middle-aged business man, owner of Birling & Co. * Mrs. Sybil Birling: Mr. Birling's wife, chairwoman of Brumley Women's Charitable Organization * Sheila Birling: daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Birling, in her early twenties * Eric Birling: son of Mr. and Mrs. Birling, also in his early twenties * Gerald Croft: son of Sir George Croft who is the owner of Croft's Ltd., a rival company to Birling & Co. * Inspector Goole: a mysterious visitor to the Birling household one fateful evening; he has come to make enquiries about the death of a young girl Set in the spring of 1912, the play opens on a seemingly happy scene. ...read more.

Middle

equal or maybe even as inferior to him; she thinks that her status entitles her to some sort of special treatment, highlighted by her saying, ."...you seem to be conducting [your enquiry] in a rather peculiar and offensive manner. You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago and that he's still a magistrate..." Yet she lies when asked if she recognised the picture of Eva Smith shown to her, and is unwilling to co-operate with the Inspector for almost the entire period he is there. Mr. Birling has learnt just as little as his wife. His love of money, recognition and fame are too great and he convinces himself, as Mrs. Birling has convinced herself, that he has done nothing wrong. The only remorse he shows is when he declares, "I'd give thousands, yes, thousands [to bring Eva back]...", and that statement is probably mostly down to the affect the Inspector has had on him in making him feel extremely guilty and uncomfortable, rather than down to genuine regret. The main thing that influences Birling's actions is what is in them for him; because of this he refused to grant his worker's request of slightly higher wages because it would make him lose money, and fired Eva Smith and the other ringleaders to stop himself looking bad and so there would be no further trouble. ...read more.

Conclusion

He cannot believe that they will not accept the responsibility for the death of Eva and their own grandchild. At the beginning of the play Sheila appears na�ve, shallow and materialistic, almost childlike. She is described as "...very pleased with life and rather excited." When Gerald gives her an engagement ring, she says "Now I really feel engaged." which perhaps proves she cares more for the ring than for Gerald. I believe that Sheila has learnt the most of all the characters by the end of the play; she has certainly come the furthest. In fact as soon as she hears of the part her father had to play in driving Eva to suicide she has already begun to change, saying, "But these girls aren't cheap labour, they're people." As she finds out of her own part to play in the tragedy, she is filled with deep remorse almost straight away, "...I felt rotten about it at the time and now I feel a lot worse." She believes that whether or not what the Inspector told them was the truth, everyone should still have learnt a lesson and took responsibility for their actions: "I tell you - whoever that Inspector was, it was anything but a joke...You began to learn something. And now you've stopped. You're ready to go on in the same old way." ?? ?? ?? ?? Zo� Poulton-Jones 11AK 19/04/2009 Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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