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Discuss Priestley's presentation of the inspector, How successful is the end of the play?

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Discuss Priestley's presentation of the inspector, How successful is the end of the play? To properly answer the question, we must firstly consider what society was really like during the time that the play is based and then compare it to the time it was preformed. During the early 1900's, if you were rich, life was good. The British Empire was at its peak and trade unions were not powerful enough to cause significant grief for factory owners, such as Arthur Birling or Gerald Croft. A rich person was pretty much untouchable. On the other hand, if you were poor, it was very different. With very limited employment rights and no organised state welfare, you were practically a slave to the owner of the local factory. This kind of society is considered now, by most, and back then by some, morally wrong. This society is shown through Priestley's characters, which, it could be argued, should not be looked at in isolation, but should be viewed as archetypes of society at the time. By viewing the characters of the play in this way, we can see what Priestley's political and social views of society were. The way Priestley used stage directions and character entries and exits throughout the play was very effective and somewhat crucial to the effect his political message had. ...read more.


chief constable' to which the Inspector, despite the fact that this puts Mr Birling in quite a powerful position, as such a thing is merely code for saying that you are a member of the "old boy's" club, merely replies with: 'I don't play golf' This confidence that Mr Birling has that the Chief will help him solely because he is his friend, shows the clear corruption of the "higher" social order, but also allows Priestly to demonstrate how to deal with these people, by being neither impressed nor swayed by his social rank. In addition to this, Mr Birling is a cruel and petty man. This is plainly shown by his sacking of Eva Smith over a strike, relating to a miniscule pay increase, showing that he puts more stock in his own financial gain than in the welfare of his long suffering workforce. This of course, begins the 'Chain of events,' As described by the Inspector, that lead up to the death of Ms Smith. As you can see, Arthur is the representation of the head man. "The man in charge". However, we can see that he can not do this right, because the inspector is constantly outsmarting him and making him look like a fool. I believe this is because Mr Birling is, unlike Sybil Birling and Gerald Croft, not used to the position that he is in. ...read more.


I think the end also shows some character definition because although the inspector has left and has had a considerable impact on the family some members still try and polish over what they have done by saying the inspector was a hoax and miss the point that it didn't matter if the issues were separate what they had done was morally wrong. To end, I would like to say that, as an investigation into the lives and times of an upper-middle class family in the early 1900's, An Inspector Calls works very well. It is able to subtly work into its plot a rich and in depth look at the wickedness and weakness of the people in that "upper" class bracket. When reading and then further analysing this play, something struck me. The whole play is a long fable. It tells the story of the Birlings, shows the message and then tells the audience not to worry, we can still change. Also, I would like to remind you that Priestley's message holds true to this very day. I will leave you now with the quote that best illustrates and embodies this message. During a conversation with the Inspector in act one Gerald states that 'After all, you know, we are respectable citizens, not criminals' To which the Inspector replies: 'Sometimes, there is not as much difference as you would think. If it was left to me, I don't think I would know where to draw the line.' ...read more.

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