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How does Priestley convey two of the social issues that he is concerned with in the play? Substantiate your answer with close reference to the text.

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Introduction

How does Priestley convey two of the social issues that he is concerned with in the play? Substantiate your answer with close reference to the text. The play An Inspector Calls was set in the year 1912, but written and first performed in 1945. In this play, J.B. Priestley uses the differences in behaviour and attitudes between the wealthy Birling family and factory worker Eva Smith, to show the differences between the social classes as well as the industrial setting of that time (during World War I). The Birling family is "prosperous" and "comfortable", and Mr. Birling's ostentatious posturing emphasizes their good fortune. In the opening lines of the play, he is found discussing port with Gerald, immediately giving the audience a sense of the family's financial security. When Mr. Birling tells Gerald and Eric that a man should "look after his own", and not listen to the "cranks" who talk about "community and all that nonsense", it becomes obvious that he has no interest in the welfare of people like Eva Smith. By making Mr. ...read more.

Middle

Sheila is shallow, childish, and naive. She calls her dad "mean" for sacking Eva Smith, and exclaims that girls like Eva are "people", as if she has never really thought about such things before Eva's death. These characteristics are intended to show what a sheltered life Sheila, like many other rich young girls belonging to upper-class families, has led. While Sheila is poised to marry a rich and respected young "man about town" and will never be expected to work a day in her life, at the time of her death Eva had already been sacked from two jobs, and had fended for herself for several years. At several points throughout the play, Sheila's parents try to send her away so that she will not be shocked by the details of the investigation. This only clarifies the double standard present in this situation: the Birlings expect working-class girls to experience things that they do not want their daughter to even hear about. Priestley set the play in the fictional industrial city of Brumley. Brumley would have been typical of many towns where the factory owners, who provided much needed employment, were able to run their businesses exactly as they wanted to. ...read more.

Conclusion

He seems to think that he is above the law, telling the Inspector that he "doesn't like" his "tone". He also repeatedly tells the Inspector that he doesn't think these events are "any concern" of his. Mr. Birling tries to intimidate the Inspector by telling him about the "close" friendship he shares with the chief constable, and then to "settle it sensibly" - in other words, to try to solve the problem with money. Mrs. Birling also tries to intimidate the Inspector, albeit in a more subtle manner than her husband. Mrs. Birling calls his investigation "absurd", and says that he is "conducting it in a rather peculiar and offensive manner". She reminds him of her husband's powerful position in society, as if this absolves the family from any need to cooperate with the Inspector. Mr and Mrs. Birling's attitude towards the investigation shows their refusal to accept responsibility for Eva's death, and gives the reader a glimpse of the abuse that Eva suffered at the hands of those in positions of power. Also, Mr Birling's wish to solve the problem with money and the use of his 'close friendship' with the Chief Constable reflects the presence of corruption in the society then, and how wealth and riches could significantly increase one's influence and power. ...read more.

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