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How far do you think the Inspector's dealings with the Birling family affect each character's view of themselves and their position in society?

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How far do you think the Inspector's dealings with the Birling family affect each character's view of themselves and their position in society? 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B. Priestley is set in an industrial city, Brymley in 1912, just before the First World War. The Inspector's dealings with the Birling family cause some of the characters in the play to re-evaluate their position in society, whilst others remain unaffected. J.B.Priestley criticises middle class oppression of the working class by showing how the Birlings and Gerald Croft are involved in making a young working class girl's life a misery. Act one begins by introducing the characters and presents a seemingly happy united family looking forward to the future with a degree of confidence. Arthur Birling is having an enjoyable celebration where he produces many speeches and predictions. Mr Birling opens the play with "You ought to like this port, Gerald. As a matter of fact, Finchley told me it's exactly the same port your father gets from him." Birling's first line of dialogue, shows him trying to impress Gerald, as Gerald's father is of a higher class than the Birling family and also to climb the social ladder. He views himself as a man of a high class and uses manipulation to get to the top. ...read more.


Sheila is emotionally affected by the Inspector and she has a moral conscience, "I feel rotten at the time and now I feel a lot worse." Shelia is very distressed by the girl's suicide and thinks that her father's behaviour was unacceptable. She readily agrees that she behaved very badly and insists that she never meant the girl any harm when she abused her power and status. She is prepared to admit her faults. It is clear that the Inspector has had a dramatic effect on Sheila who is determined to change the way she acts in the future as she says, "I'll never do it again." She now acknowledges of her responsibilities to others in society. Her readiness to learn from experience greatly contrasts to her parents, "but these girls aren't cheap labour-they're people." She is unable to accept her parent's attitude and is both amazed and concerned that they have not learnt anything from the dealings with the Inspector. Gerald is present throughout Sheila and Birling's confession and he believes he has no part to play, until he hears the name "Daisy Renton" Gerald's view of himself in society is that he is of the, "absolute first class," Gerald does have genuine feelings for Daisy However he allows the class difference to prevent him taking the affair any further. ...read more.


Mrs Birling like both Mr Birling and Mr Croft do not accept responsibility for their actions because they believe they have not done anything wrong. The desire to remain unaffected about the events is clear. The tension remains as the two generations (younger and older) confirm the differences as suggested by the Inspector. Sheila is disgusted at the way her mother, father and ex-fianc� are happy to forget all as the Inspector is soon find to be a fraud, "so nothing really happened, so there's nothing to be sorry for, nothing to earn. We can all go on behaving just as we did. Eric is the only other who has been affected by the Inspector like Sheila, they are the younger generation and are both sorry for their faults, and are very likely to change their view of themselves thereby reducing the divide between lower and upper class people, as they realise how the both abused their position in society. Mr Birling and Mr Croft represent Priestley's criticism for businessmen who are only interested in making money and social climbing. Mr and Mrs Birling and Croft will never alter their ways even after the Inspector has exposed their true natures. However Priestley does convey a sense of hope for the younger generation who learn from their mistakes and challenge society's class divide because of the Inspectors dealings. Katarina Stead English Essay 11B ...read more.

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