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Examine Inspector Goole’s and Mr Birling’s attitudes to society and particularly their attitudes to Eva Smith. Consider Priestley’s message.

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Introduction

Examine Inspector Goole's and Mr Birling's attitudes to society and particularly their attitudes to Eva Smith. Consider Priestley's message. Inspector Goole's and Mr Birling's attitudes to society contrast immensely. Their different approach to life and particularly the different way in which they view the life and death of Eva Smith is central to the play's theme. The purpose of the play is to convey an important message about social responsibility to the audience and it is the contrasting attitudes of Inspector Goole and the older members of the Birling family - particularly Mr Birling - which bring home this message. Mr Birling does not care about anyone except himself and his family. He will not face up to the effect of his own actions on other people - even when they have tragic consequences as in the case of Eva Smith's suicide. Inspector Goole on the other hand has a high regard for individuals wherever they come from in society and strongly believes social responsibility for others goes hand in hand with privilege. Early in the play we see Mr Birling's capitalist principles - based on a system where private individuals run businesses for private profit. He looks forward to a time when Croft and Birling are working together "for lower costs and higher prices." ...read more.

Middle

Inspector Goole is a socialist that believes that everyone has individual responsibility for others in the community. He clearly has sympathy with lowly paid workers like Eva and supports their moderate approach in trying to get a reasonable wage. He comments, "it is better to ask for the earth than to take it" - this implies that he is moderate, not revolutionary. Inspector Goole thinks of everyone as individuals. He does not use stereotypes. He does not judge people by their class or wealth but sympathises with the difficulties of poor people: " it would do us all a bit of good if... we tried to put ourselves in the places of these young women counting their pennies in dingy little back bedrooms." Throughout the play he reminds everyone of the worth of Eva Smith and the waste of her suicide. He says" A nice promising life there I thought and a nasty mess someone's made of it." Inspector Goole reminds the audience that she acted honourably and with great responsibility (unlike the other characters in the play). For example she refuses to go on accepting stolen money from Eric - this contrasts with the way in which he is prepared to steal it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Priestley puts all his thoughts through Inspector Goole. He puts all his criticisms through Mr and Mrs Birling. Eva Smith represents all ordinary people - Eva is the name of the first women and Smith is a universal name. Priestley uses various dramatic devices to create tension. Tension builds up at the end of each act. The audience can anticipate that each member of the family will be involved in the inspector's inquiries but each act stops at a dramatic point so that the audience has to wait for the next important point. At the end of the play there are several twists in the plot. This makes the Inspector seem very mysterious - he might not have been a policeman but was he supernatural? The twist of plot also emphasises the differences between the older members of the family and Croft (who think that the Inspector was an impostor and therefore think that their lack of social responsibility is OK) and Eric and Sheila who have grasped the Inspector's message anyway - Eric says "he was our police inspector all right" Goole and Birling contrast immensely. Birling was the sort of person Priestley would hate and Goole is the sort of person Priestley would like to be - in fact he represents Priestley in the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? Thomas Haines Form 10RB ...read more.

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