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How does JB Priestley expound his views of social hypocrisy in An Inspector Calls?

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls How does JB Priestley expound his views of social hypocrisy in 'An Inspector Calls'? 'An Inspector Calls' is a play that was written by J B Priestley. It was written in 1945, after World War II. However the play is set in 1912, which is known as the Edwardian Era, before both of the world wars. The Edwardian era was a time of division between the poor and the rich. It is often regarded as the romantic Golden Age of long summer afternoons with big hats and garden parties. At this time Britain was very powerful and had the worlds largest navy. It was also a time for economic success. For the lower class life was a struggle, there was very little money for them. Work was also very hard and strenuous for them since there were very few regulations about safety in the workforce and trade unionism was in its early days. Workers had no choice but to obey their employers because they knew that this was the only way for them to earn money and feed their family. Workers had little or no breaks and had to work long hours. They also got punished if they talked and were hardly ever allowed to go to the toilet. Women were paid half the wage that men did. During the time period of 1911-1913 5% of the population was from the upper class, they owned 87% of the country's total wealth. 13% of the country's total wealth was shared between the lower class and the middle working class people who owned businesses and shops. For the upper class people life was joyous. They embraced leisure sports which led to fashion. The upper class didn't work. Their money was inherited. After World War II Britain had certain changes for example compulsory education and better medical care. It became new for women to be employed in anything except factories. Artists at this time were influenced by a greater awareness of human rights. ...read more.

Middle

Sheila gets more interested in the ring than in Gerald. She says 'Yes-the very. Oh-it's wonderful! Look mummy isn't it a beauty?' This tells us that Sheila is quite materialistic. Sheila is protected by her Father, Mr Birling who is like a pillar in society, everyone looks up at him. Sheila doesn't really know what is happening in the real world she is unaware. Eva smith had got a job at Milwards in December 1910 but she was sacked by the end of January 1911. The reason n for her being dismissed was Sheila. The Inspector says 'A nice little promising life thee, I thought, and a nasty mess somebody's made of it'. The Inspector is purposely trying to make the Birling family feel guilty. Eva smith was sacked because 'a customer complained about her-and so she had to go'. The customer that complained about her was Sheila. When Sheila went to Milwards with her Mother. She had found a dress that she likes and tried it on. Although her 'mother had been against it'. She still went to try it on. The dress didn't suit her but when she caught Eva smith through the mirror holding the dress against herself it suited her and she got jealous. She went to the shop assistant and said to sack Eva and the threat she gave was 'I'd persuade mother to close our account with them'. Sheila was jealous; this shows us that actions have consequences. At the beginning of the play Sheila was a spoilt materialistic daughter of the Birlings. She was an obedient daughter and never went against her mother or father. After the Inspectors interrogation she changes, she no longer remains the Sheila she used to be. Sheila starts feeling guilty she can see who the Inspector is unlike her parents who still remain the same from the beginning till the end of the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

J B Priestley is talking to the audience as a warning having gone through two world wars; he is warning his audience that, unless they change, they will destroy the world through their selfishness and greed. The Inspector has two roles in the play one as J B Priestley's voice and the other as the Inspector in the play. 'An Inspector Calls' is a didactic plays also known as a moral play one that teaches its audience a message. Most of these date back to the fifteenth century and usually one of the characters represents one of the seven deadly sins visited by a mysterious visitor like in 'an Inspector Calls' The inspector was like a magical visitor. It leaves the audience at a cliff-hanger and with them thinking whether he was a ghost or J B Priestley's voice directly or a voice of Eva smith or someone's dream. An example of another morality play like 'An Inspector Calls' is Charles dickens 'A Christmas Carol' in which scrooge sees his dead partner Marley's ghost to change the wicked ways that he has. J B Priestley has been quite successful in conveying his message across to his audience since the play is quite interesting and makes you think about who the Inspector really is. It also gives great messages to the audience such as actions have consequences and that we do have an influence on other by what we say and do. I think everyone in the play plays a fair part of hypocrisy in the play but the one character who I think is the most hypocritical is Mrs Birling because she is supposes to be helping other by giving them charity but she is a selfish woman which is quite ironic. J B Priestley's play overall is quite successful and think in society today it can be watched and people could try to change themselves because even nowadays there are people like Eva smith in poorer countries and people like Mr and Mrs Birling. ...read more.

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