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How does Priestly reveal his views about the responsibility? Do you think he gets his message across successfully?

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Jacqui Talbot 5ng March 2003 GCSE English Literature Social, historical, cultural contexts An Inspector Calls (1945) by J.B.Priestly 'The message of 'An Inspector Calls' is simple: we don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. It is so simple that only a great writer would have the courage to make it a central.' John Braine (1978) How does Priestly reveal his views about the responsibility? Do you think he gets his message across successfully? Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly at the Birling family's house and announces Eva Smith's death, which startles the Birling family. Which commences the play. Firstly, it must be remembered that the Birling family are not guilty of any actual crime, but all have contributed to the downfall of a particular person due to their particular attitudes, beliefs and possible neglect. Therefore it could be said that Eva Smith was simply a victim of her class and time. The role of the inspector is to try to bring the Birling family to understand that they have a moral responsibility for the death of Eva Smith but not a criminal one. The play 'An Inspector Calls' is set in 1912 but was written in 1945. Edwardian society at that time was strictly divided into social classes and over two-thirds of the nation's wealth was in the hands of less than one percent of the population. ...read more.


Mrs Birling shows characteristics in some ways, to be very similar to her husband, and denies any responsibility herself; instead choosing to blame others, which later becomes a very bad decision. Mrs Birling treats the inspector in a patronising, threatening way, 'I realise you may have to conduct some kind of enquiry but I must say you seem to be conducting it in a rather peculiar and offensive manner. You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago.' She thinks highly of herself and is ready to abuse her position, like other members of the family. As a member of the Bromley Women's Charity Organisation Mrs Birling is the last member of the family to have had contact with Eva Smith, having rejected Eva because she had used the family name to claim to the organisation, Mrs Birling ironically tells Eva Smith, to look for the father of the child. Mrs Birling refuses to show any guilt over Eva's death, 'even though the girl had been trying to protect the father of the child because he had been giving her stolen money and that he was a youngster silly and wild and drinking too much.' She does not realise of course; that she is describing her own son Eric, Mrs Birling even suggests he ought to be dealt with very severely. ...read more.


He shows that in the early 20th century that the upper class had great power and wealth and did not care about the lower class but as this play shows, their affects were sometimes fatal. The play was written in 1945, the final year of the Second World War. Priestley was trying to show the predominantly middle class audience that despite all the death and destruction of the Great War, the working class was no better off. The 1920's and 1930's were a time of unemployment, strikes and depression. This time around, Priestley says, things could really improve if only people were to become more socially responsible for the welfare of others. The fact that his use of time sometimes makes it seem as if events have not yet happened and the characters might have a chance to change their actions, reflects this - there was a Second World War and people have a second chance to change things. The older Birling's represent those who failed to learn from the First World War, while Sheila and Eric are the younger generations who still have a chance to learn and change. In conclusion, this play is a comment on the society of the Edwardian age, as well as being a play about relationships as a whole. Priestley sets out to show the failings of that society and succeeds. ...read more.

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