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Explore the ways in which Priestly conveys a socialist message in 'An Inspector Calls'

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Introduction

Explore the ways in which Priestley conveys a socialist message in 'An Inspector Calls' An Inspector Calls is set in 1912, just before the beginning of World War One, however it was written in 1944-5, and was first performed in 1945 as the Second World War ended. Priestley survived the First World War, but bitterly disliked it. So when the Second World War came around, he began to question the point of the first war. So many men died, yet seemingly for nothing because this scene was re-enacted; just a replay if you like of the first. He began to question the point of leadership, and the belief in the power of leadership; they did nothing to prevent the first war, but even worse, they allowed the second to go ahead. He did not think there was a point in fighting another war simply to be recognized as the victor, or to gain land; the war could only be viable if it led to some good happening as a result. He believed that it should have resulted in society being improved, which is one of the main socialist ideals. So he chose the setting of this play to be before the Second World War, to show how foolish the capitalist British upper classes were, and showed how similar the experiences of the two wars were. ...read more.

Middle

Mr. Birling's comment at the start that everyone should only be looking out for themselves is at direct contrast with the Inspector's very subtle socialist comment at the end of the play. By that point the Inspector has completely swayed most of the audience into his point of view, so we can criticize Mr. Birling for his blatant capitalism. Mr. Birling's attempt to deny the Inspector's existence, and therefore morals, at the end of the play, makes him a figure of fun as well as closing the case that socialism is better than capitalism. Mrs. Birling would rather accuse someone else of crimes than accept responsibility herself. She cares for her family, her place in society and her aristocracy. She is by no means a socialist, though although she runs a refuge for young women of lower classes, she only does that selfishly to elevate her own social status. She does not care what happens to the young women she turns down; as long as she gains respect that is fine by her. So when she tries to foist the blame for Eva Smith's death onto someone else, she expects it to be foisted onto someone she has had no dealings with. ...read more.

Conclusion

He was having an affair with Eva Smith, yet did not know that her real name was Daisy Renton. However Sheila did not know about this. And when told about her death he only remembers how pretty she was. But even though the Inspector highlights his faults, he still has not changed by the end of the play. He has not gained a sense of social responsibility; he is still a capitalist and not a socialist, which may be why Sheila is unsure whether to take back the engagement ring. Eric is the one on whom all the blame is placed by the end of the play; his mother, so desperate to take the blame off herself, blames her son unwillingly. Eric fully accepts he is to blame for her death, and feels immense guilt. For although he tried to support her, when he could not, she accepted this. We feel sympathetic towards Eva, but also to Eric, for trying to save her to the very extent of his limit. And when finally he turns towards the socialist method, and tries to get their parents to agree as well, we feel very proud of him. Eva Smith is a lower class girl, who had socialistic ideals, but when she clashes with the capitalist characters, she dies for trying to be socialistic. She is the scapegoat of the story. ...read more.

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