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'Discuss what Priestley is attempting to convey to the audience through

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'Discuss what Priestley is attempting to convey to the audience through "An Inspector Calls." about capitalism, social class, and English society in 1912 generally.' J. B. Priestley's play 'An Inspector calls' can be seen as a progression from ignorance to knowledge, of which he conveys many points of significance about English society in 1912. Priestley does this through various dramatic techniques that convey his criticisms to the audience. Priestley provides detailed stage directions at the beginning of Act One, which gives the audience the impression that the Birlings are quite like any other normal upper-class family. However, as events unfold he begins to slowly dismantle the family, taking each member apart to convey the fact that some apparently respectable individuals or families are actually flawed or even corrupt despite the maintenance of an appearance of respectability. This important fact is also emphasized by dramatic irony presented by Priestley when Gerald comments," You seem to be a nice well behaved family" as indeed, the Birlings turn out to be the complete opposite. Capitalism is one of the main themes presented by Priestley in this play. He mainly focuses on the effects of capitalism on people within society and how it can lead to insensitivity, greed, lack of compassion and exploitation. Before the arrival of the inspector, an engagement party is well underway in the Birling household, where the spirits are high, and everyone is about to drink to Mr Birling's daughter Sheila, and Gerald Croft's health and happiness. ...read more.


"And so you used the power you had, as the daughter of a good customer and also of a man well known in town to punish the girl..." says the inspector in the end. Also, not only is Sheila guilty of such an offence, but Mrs Birling is also at fault as she abused her status as the head of the Brumley Women's Charity organization to influence the decision of refusing help to Eva. Here Priestley is plainly criticising how rich people with social status and importance such as Sheila and her mother can manipulate their status and money to take advantage of other unfortunate, lower-classed people considered of less importance and ruin their lives with their irresponsible actions. Also, people with money and status can abuse their position by trying to intimidate others. An example of such a person in the play is Mr Birling. Mr Birling's abrupt and posh attitude suggests that he believes himself to be of importance, and above the law. He continually tries to show that he will not be intimidated by the inspector by flaunting the fact that he has power, and connections; "Perhaps I should warn you that he's(the Chief Constable) an old friend of mine, and I see him quite frequently......this is Mr Gerald Croft, son of Sir George Croft- you know, Crofts Limited." Priestley uses these examples to try and criticize the way in which upper-classed people and capitalists tried to oppress other people by utilising their title and status. ...read more.


He continues on stating that "A man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own..." of which at this point there is a sharp ring at the door indicating the arrival of the inspector. This impeccable timing seems coincidental, yet has been made deliberately by Priestley to draw the audiences' attention to what Mr Birling had actually said, and to further allow that moment of importance to be linked in with the rest of the play. However, just as Mr Birling begins the play with one attitude, the Inspector leaves it contradicting that attitude. This is dramatic irony used especially by Priestley to draw the audiences' attention to this significant point. When the inspector has finished all his inquiries, he gives a long, powerful speech about responsibilities for others and the "...millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness all intertwined with our lives..." With this the inspector emphasizes on the fact that society should make allowances for poor people and those who suffer, and that we should be careful of our actions as we are directly responsible for the consequences. In conclusion, Priestley is criticising the way that capitalism and social class and status have a negative effect on the English society in general in 1912. He emphasizes on how these factors influenced cruelty and selfishness in society, leading to damaging inflictions on the unfortunate people involved, such as Eva Smith. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ayesha Butt 11G GCSE English Assignment- 1st Draft 28/11/2004 ...read more.

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