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In what ways does the play 'An Inspector Calls' reflect the cultural, social and historical conditions of the time in which it was set.

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Introduction

In what ways does the play 'An Inspector Calls' reflect the cultural, social and historical conditions of the time in which it was set. 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945 and is a satire of an upper class household where class distinctions are being analyzed and where privilege and responsibility are being challenged. The play is set in 1912 during the Edwardian era, just two years before the beginning of World War One at a time of strong class distinctions and industrialism. Priestley's main attitudes portrayed in this play are that of corporate responsibility and the wealth and power that the upper classes enforce on the lower classes. The whole play is conducted from the Birling's dining room of a large suburban town house situated in the fictitious industrial city of Brumley in the North Midlands. The play opens with the Birling family celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald Croft. We see that Gerald and the Birlings are fairly wealthy because they can afford to have a party with 'champagne glasses, a bottle of port and after dinner cigars' unlike most of the people at the time. These artifacts immediately set the scene of a rich family who can afford to live in luxury. It establishes their lifestyle as being easy with no hard manual labour to contend with. ...read more.

Middle

Birling shows his Capitalist views with the speech 'Still, I can't accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward.' The secretive but most sympathetic of the Birling's is Eric their son, who has a great deal to do with Eva Smith. Another key member in the play is Sheila's fianc� Gerald Croft. The empathy he shows towards Eva smith may have been how Gerald and Eva were able to develop a relationship, even if it did not last. Each of these people in turn is implicated by Eva's death. Priestley puts his hopes and his beliefs in Sheila and Eric, whose consciences their rich mother and father have not yet destroyed and whose minds are still open to change. Sheila showed remorse towards her actions which led to Eva being sacked. She felt responsible and regretted complaining. It becomes clearer as the play goes on that the characters have become drawn into the manipulative control of the inspector and are forced out of their secure upper-class shells. As the play continues Priestley shows how Capitalists can use their wealth over the poor for their own advantage and that they exercise power and control over their lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

If his reputation is damaged he may not receive his knighthood. This shows how important social status is to Mr. birling and of the middle class of the Edwardian era. It must be remembered that not actual legal crime has been committed. None of the Birlings or Gerald physically killed Eva Smith. What Priestly was trying to portray was that the Birlings had a moral responsibility to the death of Eva. Birling represents the Upper Class Capitalists, and Eva Smith represented the Working Class Socialists. The speech The Inspector makes before leaving the Birling household sum up Priestley's views and the views that were beginning to emerge during the time in which the play was set. He asks the Birlings and indeed the audience to 'Just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think, say, and do. We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good Night." And final PG By Zoe Spencer 10F ...read more.

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