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Discuss the extent to which the characters in 'An Inspector's Calls' are affected by the Inspector's visit and made more aware of their social responsibilities.

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Introduction

Discuss the extent to which the characters in 'An Inspector's Calls' are affected by the Inspector's visit and made more aware of their social responsibilities. J.B. Priestley wrote 'An Inspector's Calls' the play, in 1944/45 at the end of the Second World War. One of the themes of this play is social responsibility. Priestley said on his radio broadcast 'Postscript' in 1940 that we must stop thinking in terms of property and power and begins to think in terms of community and creation. This linked up with 'An Inspector's Calls' because the theme of this play is socialism. The play is taken place in a town called Brumley in 1912. In this play the Birling's family- Sheila, Eric, Sybil and Arthur Birling are celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald Croft. They are all upper middle class people and they have obviously enjoyed their life. But they do not know that in a few hours time a person would change their attitude towards social responsibility. It was an inspector wanting some information about a suicide of a lively, pretty girl called Eva Smith. As the play goes on each of the character revealed that they have some way or another causing her to kill herself. Mr Birling, a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his fifties is a capitalist, the owner of a factory with hundreds of workers. Mr Birling is always proud of himself. He believes that a man has to make his own ways and the only things that he cares about is money and fame- 'for lower costs and higher prices' and 'I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours List.' ...read more.

Middle

But as the play goes on she began to understand more of what the Inspector come here for- changing their view of social responsibility. I think Sheila's responsibility is to behave sensibly towards other people outside and treat everyone nicely. Gerald is about thirty years old, a wealthy and upper class man who was engaged to Sheila. Gerald first knew Eva Smith as Daisy Renton (she changed her name to Daisy Renton after she was sacked in Milwards) in the Palace Bar. Gerald saw Alderman Meggarty bullied Daisy Renton and Gerald decided to help the poor girl and soon they fell in love. Then one day one of Gerald's friends went on holiday and let Gerald keep the keys of his house of him. So he let Daisy Renton stayed in his friend's house for about six months when his friend came back Gerald could not keep her any longer and so he broke the affair off definitely with Daisy Renton. Gerald hurt her emotionally and did not care about when he could not keep her. He could have married her and broke off with Sheila but the consequence is that it would ruin his reputation because he married a woman from a very low class. The best solution I think is to let Daisy Renton to have a job from his company so she did not always have to rely on Gerald. Gerald made her dependent on him so he could keep her as long as possible and dispose her when he wanted to. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sheila and Eric think that they have done what they have done and it would not matter if they did it just to one person or to different people but they still have done it- 'he was our police inspector all right' and 'I doesn't matter who it was who made us confess.' While the others think if they did what they have done to different people it would make a lot of difference- 'this makes a difference, y'know. In fact, it makes all the difference.' The people who changed theirs views of social responsibility are Sheila and Eric and the people who did not are Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald. And I think the people who changed their views are the most responsible for the death of Eva Smith because they do not have a reasonable excuse for their actions towards Eva Smith while the others who did not change their views do have good or reasonable excuses for their behaviour. But I think the most important thing is in this play are not how wrong people done but how much do they learn from it. They have abuse their power on vulnerable people like Eva Smith. Priestley does not want that to happen because he said we should 'build a nobler world in which ordinary, decent folk can not only find justice and security but also beauty and delight.' I think the Inspector is the mouth of Priestley because he kept using the Socialist's idea- 'we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.' I think that is what the book is about. ...read more.

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