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Examine the Ways in Which the Birling Family and Gerald Use Their Social Status and the Beliefs of Their Class and Times to Exploit Eva and Make Her Their Victim."

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls By J. B. Priestley 'The fact remains that I did what I did. And Mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her. It's still the same rotten story whether it's been told to a police inspector or to somebody else. According to you, I ought to feel a lot better - I stole some money, Gerald, you might as well know. The money's not the important thing. It's what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters.' "In The Light of What Eric Says Here, Examine the Ways in Which the Birling Family and Gerald Use Their Social Status and the Beliefs of Their Class and Times to Exploit Eva and Make Her Their Victim." By Priya Patel In The Light Of What Eric Says Here, Examine The Ways In Which The Birling Family And Gerald Used Their Social Status And The Beliefs Of Their Class And Times To Exploit Eva And Make Her Their Victim. Written in 1946, just after World War 2, "An Inspector Calls" has been set just before World War 1, in 1912; a period in which the class system still has a very strong hold on society and dictates a certain way of behaviour between each different class. In particular, it exemplifies how the actions of a typical upper-middle class family, has an affect on a powerless girl from a lower social background, and the consequences it has upon her. Although Eva Smith is the centre of the action, she at no time appears, as the core of the play is based upon the report of her death. The ways in which the "chains of events" unfold are revealed through the probing questioning of the local police detective inspector. The head of the family around which the play has been written and in whose dining room the entire play takes place, is Mr Arthur Birling. ...read more.

Middle

Shortly after having been 'let go' from Milwards, Eva had decided she needed a fresh start, and so she changed her name to Daisy Renton, and Gerald instantly recognises the name when it is spoken. After she had changed her name and started a new kind of life, he had met her at a bar in the Palace, a local music hall. It was a "favourite haunt of women of the town." Not planning on staying long, he had noticed Eva, a "pretty girl", completely the opposite of the "hard-eyed dough-faced women." Seeing Alderman Meggarty advancing on her, Gerald went and 'rescued' her and took her to the County Hotel. They talked and she introduced herself as Daisy Renton. When she told him she was hungry, he arranged for the hotel to provide food for her, and then when he found out that she had no real accommodation, he again found her some rooms to live in. So once again, Eva, or Daisy, was in a stable condition, this time with Gerald. Although she does not recognise the signs, Gerald is in a very high, superior position in comparison with Eva, and is under a 'sense of obligation.' She relies on Gerald far too much, and becomes an inferior when in his presence. As time went on however, Gerald was seeing her regularly, and while she was falling in love with him, he was taking advantage of her as her love was not reciprocated. Gerald decided after a few months that he could not continue the affair, and "broke it off definitely" before he went away on business. He regretted ever starting the whole relationship, especially at the time at which he ended it as Eva informed him at this point that "she'd been happier than she'd ever been before," but also stated clearly that she knew that it would never have lasted and did not blame Gerald at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

He had cheated on Sheila in order to be with Eva, but then when he was finished with Eva, he went straight back to Sheila. Even at the end of the story after having admitted what he did, he comes back and says "the man wasn't a police officer," and honestly thinks that everything that had just happened can be forgotten about. Eric has learned the most about himself, his family and about the consequences, though not normally this extreme, of his actions. It teaches him to think about what he is doing and about whether or not he should go ahead with what he wants to do, for example stealing the money. Had he though carefully, he may have come up with a different solution to provide Eva with some money, and that in turn may have kept her alive as a result. Sheila took the news more harshly than expected. She knew that she had done something wrong, but only really understood when it was pointed out to her by the inspector. Having gone through the instigation, she realised where she had gone wrong and although she had already made her mistake, she learned from it well, and realised that her actions too can be careless and affect someone else's life. All in all, I feel that the play was a case of 'role-reversal' and it was the children, Eric and Sheila learning the lesson that this play had to offer, and they had to then teach it to their parents, who had not learnt anything when the play was over, and were very stubborn in not admitting when they were wrong. Gerald, I feel, is in between the two halves of the family. He did recognise that he had made a mistake, but even after realising this, he did not make an effort to learn from it, but instead went and tried to find a way out of the situation by finding out that the inspector was not real. "It's still the same rotten story whether it's been told to a police inspector or to somebody else." - Eric Birling ...read more.

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