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How effectively does Priestly portray mankind's cruelty in his play? Examine the roles of Mr Birling, Mrs Birling and the inspector.

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Introduction

How effectively does Priestly portray mankind's cruelty in his play? Examine the roles of Mr Birling, Mrs Birling and the inspector. "An Inspector Calls" was set before the First World War, but it was released after the Second World War. One of the main reasons for this was that Priestly wanted to give the audience hindsight so they would know what really happens when the characters are discussing ideology beliefs. Priestly also wanted the audience to understand what capitalist think at that time, this way he could ridicule the views of the future that some of the characters have. This way of dramatic irony is used to manipulate the audiences' feelings. For example when Mr Birling is discussing war, which is a very sensitive issue, he makes a look of rash prediction which not only makes him untrustworthy it also makes the audience dislike his attitude. At the time of release of "An Inspector Calls", there was growing competition from the communist/socialist east, the USSR, which influenced Priestly's socialist views. Some at that time thought that within a 10 years or so the communism and socialism would spread to the western countries. Priestly himself also believed that the lower class in Britain would one day have a revolution and over throw the upper class. The play shows many examples of cruelty dealt to the lower class by the upper class, for example Mr Birling caring more about his reputation that human life. This shows why the socialist should rebel and overthrow their capitalist leaders. Another great influence of his novel is the First and Second World War. ...read more.

Middle

He makes Eric seem like an inexperienced inferior thus promoting himself to an old more experienced person. However ironically through out the play Eric seems to show a better view of society than Birling; he seems to be more considerate of others. For example when he found out Eva Smith died he instantly was sorry about the death and accepted the blame; however Mr Birling seemed to deny his part in her death and push the blame towards Sheila and Eric. On one hand Eric was saying, "We did her in all right" from here you can see that Eric has accepted his part of the blame form Eva Smiths death. One the other hand Mr Birling is still in denial, he still does not believe that he was accountable for Eva Smith's death. Towards the end he seemed more worried about a public scandal than the death of the Girl. It shows he values his reputation more than the life of other people. This symbolises the capitalist philosophy of every man for himself; it shows how cruel and selfish humans can be, only caring about themselves and willing to sacrifice lives of other people for their own gains. One of the main signs of capitalism being an unfair society is the sacking of Eva Smith. Eva Smith who was a hard working worker gets sacked for asking for fair wages, which later on leads to her tragic end. This is a very good example of the cruelty of capitalism and how individuals don't concern themselves with the greater good, instead they put priority over to their individual gains. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mr and Mrs Birling are relieved that they are not guilty. They resort back to the old ways. This shows that they only care about themselves since now they will not have to face a public scandal. However they have not listened to anything that the inspector said. On the other have Sheila and Eric have still not forgotten what the inspector said. Sheila says, "I tell you... you've all sopped" (Act 3 page 71). This shows that she has taken in what the inspector has said. Even though she is not guilty any more she still thinks about the other people in the streets. Priestly effectively portrays the cruelty of mankind's through characters such as Mr Birling and Mrs Birling, and how the death of Eva smith was the cause of their cruelty. Also he shows the audience that even though the evidence in front of Mr and Mrs Birling they still denial that they had any part in Eva Smith's death. He uses comparison with the socialist society to show how life could be a mush fairer and better for the common people. Even though this play has a dark tone, it still contains hope. For example Sheila and Eric have a totally different view on this situation than their parents. They feel what the Inspector said was correct and they also felt guilty for causing Eva Smith's death, Eric says "and I say the girl's... that's what matters" (Act 3 page 67) from here you can tell that he has stopped caring about his own reputation and started caring about Eva Smith. This could mean that Priestly is hoping the younger generation could escape the capitalist views and accept the socialist ideas. ...read more.

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