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How far do you consider the inspector successful in interrogating the Birling Family? To answer this question, consider the whole play.

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Introduction

How far do you consider the inspector successful in interrogating the Birling Family? To answer this question, consider the whole play. The inspector was very successful in his interrogation of the Birling family; each member revealed their past that was connected to the death of Eva Smith. He also brings out the true nature of each individual. Priestly spends much time detailing the scenery at the beginning of the first Act. He also depicts the family well before the inspector arrives. This indicates that the audience needs to have a clear idea of the kind of family Priestley is portraying. The family represents the upper middle class, becoming rich through business. The theme of class is important to this play. Priestley believed that everyone should be equal and no one fails foul of poverty, which he witnessed in his lifetime. His purpose was to turn society as far as possible into a classless, community-based country. To answer the question we must examine each character and how they react to the questioning. Mr Birling is the head of the Birling family and he is an arrogant, ignorant overbearing pompous man. In addition, he is very aware of himself and all the things that he has gained. He is very dismissive about the realities of the world and he likes to give advice "Now you three young people just listen" Birling's predictions for the future indicate much about his character. The audience can see that he is not as clever as he claims to be about predicting the future. The play was written in the autumn of 1944 and people had learned what happened in history. The Second World War was to have a catastrophic effect on humanity, and Priestley diminishes his character by placing him in ignorance. " The Titanic - she sails next week - forty six thousand eight hundred tons - forty six thousand eight hundred tons - New York in five days- and every luxury - and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable. ...read more.

Middle

She and Eric are the only characters that are not concerned whether Goole was a real Inspector - she says 'It doesn't make any real difference' Because she acknowledges her behaviour was morally wrong, whether or not it was legally wrong and whether or not it actually resulted in a girl's death. By the end of the play, she has begun to have some understanding of what the Inspector is doing, so that she is able to see the world, and her responsibility, according to his values instead of those of her family. This is why she can see the trap her mother's arrogance is creating, and why she tries to stop her mother from exposing and condemning the child's father. It is only she and Eric, the two youngest and 'more impressionable' characters who, in the playwright's eyes, have profited sufficiently from the lessons on stage in front of them not to repeat their mistakes a second time. The playwright describes Gerald in the opening stage directions as 'very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town'. He has the world at his feet: his father is a successful businessman, his mother comes from 'an old country family', and he has finally become engaged to Sheila after having been 'trying long enough'. He behaves respectfully and like a proper gentleman in front of his father-in-law, but it is clear that there is unresolved tension between him and Sheila over what he was doing 'all last summer' - the time when, as the play later reveals, he was seeing Eva Smith. He loyally supports Birling when the Inspector, claiming that, questions him "I know we'd have done the same thing" Even though it upsets Sheila - another example of the fact that, beneath the surface, their relationship is far from perfect- and is taken aback when he hears of her behaviour towards the girl .He seems chivalrous, like Birling, in trying to protect Sheila from the details of the case - but this is hypocritical in ...read more.

Conclusion

than to take it (which Birling does)'. What's more, the inspector has peeled away the veneer of respectability that the Birling's pride themselves on. Despite the importance in the local community of people like Gerald and the Birlings, he controls the development of events: who will speak and when; who may or may not leave; who will or will not see the photograph. He even seems to control what people say. Sheila tells Gerald: "Somehow he makes you" But he does not control their reactions - he only uses his information about the Eva Smith's life and character, her diary and a letter, her photograph, and constant reminders of the horrific death she has suffered, to create the possibility for others to face up to what they have done. They must decide whether to change or not - Sheila and Eric do; the Birlings and perhaps Gerald do not. Each character is punished in an appropriate way. Birling fears for his family's reputation at the inquest; Sheila feels shame for her selfishness; Gerald has his affair revealed in front of Sheila; Mrs Birling has her illusions about the respectability of her family shattered by Eric; and Eric is revealed before his indulgent parents as a spoilt and inadequate young man. However, in each case, the punishment is a consequence of their own behaviour; the Inspector himself does not bring punishment from outside. Perhaps this is why they are given a second chance at the end of the play - that their experience should have been a warning to them, and that next time, it is the apocalyptic future predicted by the Inspector's final speech that lies in store for them. In conclusion, the inspector is very successful in interrogating the family; he brings out to the open the faults of each character and changes the relationship between the characters. He also raises the question of community and how we are all members of a community that need to look after each other. As he says "We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." Mimi Anim-Nyame10KL/10T Mimi Anim-Nyame10KL/10T ...read more.

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