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how does Priestly explore the theme of social responsibility

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Introduction

'We Don't Live Alone, We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.' How does Priestley explore this theme of Social Responsibility? How effective is he at getting his Socialist message across to the audience? This play is set in 1912 just before the First World War. It was written in 1946 and was shown in theatres. Priestley wrote this play because he felt that everyone should help each other and be responsible for one another during this time (during the Second World War). So if they didn't care about anyone but themselves then later everything will come back on them, which happened in this play. Out of all the characters I have comprehended I think that the Inspector is one of the main characters, that Priestley used to get the message across to the Birling family and the other characters. Priestley showed this by the following method. The Inspector (who we think is fake) asked the Birling family and Gerald to prove to the audience how high classed people should have more responsibility. To show that, the quote from the play says, "Public men, Mr Birling have responsibilities as well as Privileges." This quote has an affect on the audience as it suggests how such a powerful man as Mr Birling thinks he is, is being put down by the words of the Inspector who is not even real. ...read more.

Middle

Priestley done this to pass the message to the audience, how such influential man as he says he is, describes how the titanic is unsinkable. This is proven by the quote from the text "The Titanic- she sails next week- forty-six thousand eight hundred tons- New York in five days and every luxury- and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." This speech by Mr Birling makes him look unintelligent in front of the people watching him as he says a lot of rubbish that's not true. This has an affect on the audience as it suggests to them that Mr Birling is not an educated person as he says he is as he thinks the titanic is unsinkable. The writer Priestley wanted this affect because he wanted change in the audience views about Mr Birling. He would like them to see that sometimes he says words that might be correct to show how educated he is but his general knowledge is very deprived. Another use of dramatic irony would be the part at the end of Act 2 after the curtain drops following the revelation that Eric is involved with Eva Smith. The quote "I don't believe it. I won't believe it." Everyone is anxious to find out what will take place next. When Eric enters, meeting the gaze from the rest of the family and the Inspector, he realises that they have found out and walks in shutting the door behind him. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Inspector basically says how there are more than one Eva Smith and John Smith and how we are members of one body. This is proven by the quote "One Eva Smith has gone- but there are still millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths." Another quote based on what I have pointed out "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." So the first quote means that there is more than on Eva Smith so it would be better for the Birling family to pay for what they have done now or they will pay for it later. Priestley mentioned this so that the audience understood how important Social Responsibility was at the time. The other quote about how we are members of one body is a socialist message Priestley is trying to get across to the audience. He ensured that this was effective as he used it in the Inspector's final speech to the Birling family to prove that this group of people at the time were not responsible and were not members of one body with the rest of the community. The effect on the reader or viewer at this part of the play is understandable they have realised that they should be responsible for each other and not be like this group of people who cared about themselves. Therefore they would be members of one body with the rest of people. ...read more.

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