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Discuss the view of responsibility, guilt and blame for all of the characters in “An inspector calls”.

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Introduction

The inspector doesn't condem; his job is to warn. He is concerned with the principle of collective blame, " we'll have to share our guilt." Discuss the view of responsibility, guilt and blame for all of the characters in "An inspector calls". The book begins at the Birling house where a celebration is taking place to mark the occasion of Sheila Birling and her boyfriend Gerald announcing their engagement. Spirits are high when all of a sudden an inspector calls round to question the Birlings about a suicide that happened at the local infirmary. The Birling family was very surprised to find that they were being questioned but they agreed to answer any questions the inspector had to ask. The suicide was of a young girl who was called Eva smith. The inspector made it clear at the start of the book soon after he entered that she had used many names. He then goes on asking the bewildered Birling family what connections they had with the young girl. The first person he comes to is Mr. Birling. He is a very respected member of the community and is a typical stereotype of an upper class man. He has a very low view of people lower in society than him. He owns a factory that Eva used to work in for him. She and the other workers went on strike, as they weren't getting paid enough. Because she was a ringleader she was then sacked afterwards. At first he tries to get out of any of the responsibility for Eva's death, he doesn't want his reputation to be harmed in any way. ...read more.

Middle

I don't think Eric takes responsibility for his action at the start as he goes off and blames his mother for killing her and then he blames his father for being a person he feels he cannot talk to. "because your not the type of father a chap could go to when he is in trouble." "you killed her!" I think that this is just shock at the fact she is dead and so is his baby. I think that he is the first person I have come across out of the people I have studied that has actually been connected with Eva other than on a speaking or employment level. He then at the end of the play begins to accept responsibility for what he has done and shows a whole new mature side to him that shows great reasoning. I think that this new side comes out because he has had time to adjust to what he and the rest of the characters have done. "the fact remains that I did what I did." This shows great maturity and he is trying to get the rest of the family to accept responsibility for what part they played no matter how small a part it was. I think that Eric feels bit of guilt, more so than his father but I would say not as much as his sister. Unlike his father he knows he was in the wrong. As far as blame goes I would say Eric is the most to blame. Even though he tried to fix it with what he thought was the right thing by giving her money he still left her with a baby. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that all of the characters in the play are to blame for Eva's death in some way or another. With most of them the incident was uncalled for and was just them being either frustrated or prejudice towards Eva because of her working class background. There was only one person who I feel really cared for her and that was Gerald. He took her in and gave her money to buy clothes and food and they loved each other for several months. He did however knock her back in the end. Eric treated her like a piece of meat. He made love to her and then tried to pay her off when he realized she was pregnant. The inspector deals with the idea of collective blame at the end when everyone has said their bit. He makes it clear that it was not just down to on person and that they were all to blame. "But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that, never forget it." This I feel is the whole moral to the play along with a few others that we can all play a part in something no matter how small it is it can still have an effect. As far as the characters who have learnt from the experience I would say that it was only Sheila and Eric who realize at the end when the policeman is revealed as a fraud who do not think that it gets them off the hook for what they have done. They look back on things at the end of the play and say we still did bad things that we shouldn't have done. The other characters are not bothered. They are off the hook. ...read more.

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