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How important is Birling's interaction with the Inspector in Act1 of 'An Inspector Calls'? How does Priestly show the difficulties of workers at this time?

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Samantha Brown 4th March 2004 How important is Birling's interaction with the Inspector in Act1 of 'An Inspector Calls'? How does Priestly show the difficulties of workers at this time? 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945 by J.B Priestly who was a socialist. It was written to make people recognise that capitalism is incorrect and socialism is correct.' An Inspector Calls' was set in 1912 which is immediately before the First World War. Priestly was writing in this period to inform people of the consequences of self confidence and selfishness. In this play Birling represents all the capital views and Eva, the workers and the Inspector represent the socialist views. The Birling's are all of high class and the majority of the family assume they deserve better treatment than the lower class. The capitalist view is when the community are more concerned with money and profit and the socialist view is when the community believe in equality and caring about each other more than money. Priestly was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on the 13th September 1894.At the age of sixteen Priestly decided to leave school, rather than working towards his university scholarship Priestly decided 'to write'. Priestly grew up into his father's circle of socialist friends and found himself joining in with their political arguments 'he was politically-minded to some extent, but never able to put politics first. These discussions also influenced and framed the values which were later to predominate in Priestley's writing' (Introduction, An Inspector Calls). ...read more.


Birling believed that his status in society can get him out of any problems he or the family are involved in and so Birling attempts to use his status and power to influence the Inspector with his judgements. The Inspector objects to the way that Birling has treated his workers, particulary because he refused to increase the workers pay by a minute amount.Birling is a rich man and only seems to care about his family and how well his business is progressing, in other words how much money he is earning. He had no care for any of his workers, and didn't know them at all 'I have a couple of hundred workers under me, who keep changing'. This also means that he didn't care who he employed as long as he could pay them low wages. Even though Birling claims that Eva was a 'good worker', he still dismissed her and the fact that he also only pays them little demonstrates this. The workers were averaging 'twenty-two and six' and requested their wages be increased to 'twenty-five shillings a week' but Birling refused and claimed that the workers wages was 'neither more nor less' than what is paid generally in Birling's industry.Birling claimed that 'it's a free country' and that they could 'go elsewhere if they didn't like it' but for the workers it was a strenuous just living without having the excess trouble of looking for work again. Birling's views on labour costs is to keep them to a minimum, he achieves this by maintaining the workers wages appallingly low.Birling believes he couldn't increase Eva's wages because he would have been adding 'about twelve percent' to his labour costs. ...read more.


They take advantage of those weaker than themselves. The play makes us ware that the workers in 1912 were treated poor, harsh and incorrect and some of the higher class couldn't care less about them. Priestly wanted to show that this will continue to occur if the society doesn't learn from their mistakes. Between the years 1912-1945 the society has seen what happens to an uncaring society. The country experienced World Wars, Depressions and many more disasters. This emphasises how important it is that the society is concerned for each other and helps those weaker than themselves rather than just being concerned with themselves and those of the same class. The audience is intended to fell that they can and will make a difference by treating everybody equal. Priestly hoped that the audience would also agree with his socialist views and disagree with Birling's capitalist views. Priestly highlights the difficulties of workers as this time in the play and through the death of Eva Priestly is showing that capitalists cares more about profit and money than they care about each other. This also shows how those of the higher class would rather lose a 'good worker' than help them if it meant that their labour costs increased, this is shown by Birling dismissing Eva. Luckily the society did take notice of the consequences of an egocentric society and began taking other views into consideration and people started to be treated equally and there were organisations being set up to help those less fortunate such as the National Health Service (NHS) which offered free medical care to anyone. ...read more.

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