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In this essay, I am going to write about the function of the inspector in An Inspector Calls

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Introduction

In this essay, I am going to write about the function of the inspector in "An Inspector Calls" I will cover historical context, the way the inspector deals with each of the characters and the response of the audience to the Inspector and to the play as a whole. I will also include some other points. Priestly was born in Bradford to middle class parents. At that time, Britain had more outdoor paupers than at any time since 1888. One in forty-one people relied upon a parish charity for food. 156 people died in Welsh pit disasters. The rich business men ignored the safety of their workers in that time. There were Nation-wide violent riots over low wages and rising prices. 200,000 went on strike but were locked out and forced to return on the same wages. In "An Inspector Calls" Mr Birling's staff go on Strike because of low wages; Eva Smith being one of them. At that time, London was the second unhealthiest city in the world. Queen Victoria died and Edward VII comes to the throne. When the First World War started, Priestly served in the trenches of France. Tanks, shells, warships, submarines, machine guns, poison gas and bomber planes used for the first time in war. Income tax was then doubled to pay for the war. In the story, The Birling family believe there will not be war. Mr Birling thinking this especially. He says, "And I say there isn't a chance of war. The world's developing so fast it'll make war impossible" This is dramatic irony. He is foolish and he thinks he's clever; he's not in the slightest. The "unsinkable" Titanic set sail and sank. This is another event which backs up that Mr Birling is a foolish man. On page seven of the story, Mr Birling says "Why, a friend of mine went over this new liner last week- the Titanic- she sails next week- forty six thousand eight hundred tons- New York in five days- and every luxury- and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable. ...read more.

Middle

Mr Birling refuses to see how the girl's death could have been a result of sacking her. He was only concerned about his reputation because he wanted to have a knighthood in the next honours list. But, Mr Birling learns that his family aren't as perfect as he thinks. Eric says he cannot go to him and talk to him. He hasn't learnt about taking responsibility for everybody else in the world though, only himself. This shows that the family are not as close as Mrs Birling would like to think. Then he goes onto Sheila, Sheila got Eva fired from Milwards because Eva smiled when the dress didn't suit Sheila. She was jealous of her, as she was very pretty also. Sheila realises what she had done right from the start "No, not really. It was my own fault". But she thought nothing of it at the time. She doesn't really need much convincing from the inspector because she admitted it was her fault, and she felt awful for it. "I feel now I can never go there again. Oh- why did this have to happen?" Gerald showed some sense of responsibility when he rescued the girl from the unwelcome attentions of another man, fed her and found her somewhere to live. Yet he gave in to his own desire for personal pleasure and eventually abandoned the girl without knowing or caring about what happened to her. Gerald didn't want Sheila finding out, of course, she already knew something was going on last summer as we learnt about earlier in the play but she didn't know what. At first he tries to hide it, he tells Sheila they can keep it a secret, but she says "Why- you fool- he knows. Of course he knows" The inspector didn't even have to make Gerald confess, when the inspector mentioned the name 'Daisy Renton' He suddenly said 'Whattt' and seemed very surprised and anxious, he gave it away himself without the inspectors help. ...read more.

Conclusion

They all feel guilty at this point, which allows the Inspector to take charge. Look carefully at how he has manipulated them to this point - inspecting them in a particular order and to a very specific time limit. The Inspector now has the full attention of the characters and the audience, so he can make the point that he has been leading up to all night. They can do nothing to help Eva Smith, but there are millions of people just like her who need help. The Inspector tells us how important it is to take care of each other - if people are made to suffer, we will suffer too. The words, 'We are members of one body,' is at the heart of the socialist message of the play - we must take responsibility for the welfare of others - not just our own. It is not just directed towards the Birlings; we are expected to respond to this message as well. This moment is already full of tension, but the Inspector's final sentences raise the tension even more with their foreboding. He tell us that if we don't listen to him then we will have to pay the price in 'fire and blood and anguish' (like the fire, blood and aguish in World War One) our lives can never be the same. Many people believe that these words were actually a prediction of World Wars I and II and even the Russian Revolution. People did not learn the Inspector's lesson, which is why the Holocaust happened. It is also because of these words that we become so angry when it seems later on that the Birlings are going to get away with it. We feel that the Inspector has lied to us and that people like them will not have to suffer. This is why the ending is such a relief (and a surprise!) to us - it seems the Birlings are not going to get away with it after all. Kate Shanahan An Inspector Calls Coursework 1 ...read more.

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