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How far is "An Inspector Calls" a vehicle for Priestley's, socialist ideas? What is the message of the play?

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Introduction

How far is "An Inspector Calls" a vehicle for Priestley's, socialist ideas? What is the message of the play? Is it as relevant now as it was when the play was written? John Priestley was born 1894 and died in 1984. He wrote in many genres. His novels and plays reflect his interest in expressionist forms, psychological themes, and social criticism. Priestley describes himself as more or less a socialist intellectual. His early life shows that a large number of people lived their lives blighted by poverty, bad housing, and the fear of loosing their jobs. He felt that this was unfair and unnecessary. He had an immense sympathy and understanding of the problems of the poor, and the under-privileged. Priestley did not want the mistakes of the 1920's and the 1930's to occur again, like the General Strike of 1926 and mass unemployment of the 1930's. He wanted people to "think differently", and so wrote the play "An Inspector Calls", (a police thriller) in order for the reader to explore many moral questions that he believed in. Priestley's themes are still relevant in today's society. Priestley wanted everyone to know how people are self-righteous and how they abused their power and wealth. He believed passionately in the freedom of individuals. He did not like the class system, where people achieved solely from their position in society. ...read more.

Middle

They began to have a relationship and Gerald had to end their affair, as he had to go away on business. Gerald told the Inspector, she was very gallant about it, and she knew that it could not last forever. "She told me she'd been happier than she'd ever been before - but that she knew it couldn't last - hadn't expected it to last. She didn't blame me at all. I wish to God she had now. Perhaps I'd feel better about it." Gerald starts to show sympathy towards Eva. He soon wishes that he could have done more to help Eva, like carried on giving her money or helped her find somewhere to live. He wished he could have helped, in some way or another. Mrs Birling is member of the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation. The charity to which women in distress can ask for help in various forms. Eva approached the charity, she asked for help but not as Eva Smith or Daisy Renton but as Mrs Birling. This is one of the reasons why the appeal was declined. "Yes, I think it was simply a piece of gross impertinence - quite deliberate - naturally that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case." She was disgusted that "a girl of that status" would presume to use the name Birling. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is a clear contrast between younger and older generations. Priestley makes it clear because the elders (Mr and Mrs Birling) seem stubborn, selfish and do not seem to accept their role in society. The younger generation (Sheila and Gerald) seems to have morals, and appear to be more open-minded about change The story points this out to the reader, and shows the wall separating society of those days. It is telling us that there will always be people who use their power, wealth, and social position to get what they want, and if they don't get it they will act dumb, just like the Birlings. The Inspector approached them, question them, and at first they denied but slowly the truth came out. This happens in society today. Our newspapers report to us about fights, love, break-ups, and the famous being seen in public. These people are seen to us as the "upper class". There is a wall between people in our world, just like in 1912. However, the rift is more apparent today then that of a few decades ago. People like the Royal family, politicians, singers, actors, sports men and many other famous people, divide themselves from us. Three societies' exist today, the rich, middle class, and the poor. Didn't God make all people equal, so why has the world become like this? This may be one of the points Priestly is trying to express through his life and his novels. He express that all people are equal and are all one. 2 1 ...read more.

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