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In what ways does the story of Eva Smith's life, as revealed by the inspector, make you aware of the attitudes of the people at the time the play is set?

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Introduction

In what ways does the story of Eva Smith's life, as revealed by the inspector, make you aware of the attitudes of the people at the time the play is set? The play, An Inspector Calls was written by J.B.Priestley in 1945 and performed a year later. The story is about a traditional upper class family called the Birlings, who throughout the play are revealed to be involved in the life and death of a young, working class girl called Eva Smith. We discover that she commits suicide because of the chain of events, which the Birlings were involved in. In this essay I am going to be examining each character's involvement in her life and their attitudes towards Eva smith and girls like her. The first character I am going to look at is Mr. Birling. He is a very successful businessman who as worked hard to get where he is and believes that nothing will bring him down. He is very pompous and has strong views on many subjects. He likes to describe himself as a, " hard headed man of business" who is working for " lower costs and higher prices". This is the reason why he is involved with Eva in the first place. Eva was working at Birling's factory where she went on strike for more pay. The sharp way in which Mr. Birling reacts to this shows us his attitude towards his staff. " I refused, of course". He appeared shocked to see that a girl like Eva would even consider asking for more money. ...read more.

Middle

Gerald was the son of a very important man, he was engaged to a young woman and he held a very important reputation on the line but he still went ahead and had an affair with Daisy. This tells us that Gerald, and men like him, didn't have respect for their wives and were willing to risk everything just to be with a girl. Gerald's attitude towards other people was generally acceptable, but by him going off with Eva, it shows to us that he is insensitive to other people's feelings and that he is putting on a front to everyone that he knows. The way he describes his relationship with Daisy makes him sound like he is a hero and the innocent one." The girl saw me looking at her then gave me a glance that was nothing less than a cry of help". It seems like a coincidence that his friend was going away and leaving Gerald a set of keys to his apartment that he conveniently used. In Gerald's eyes what he is doing is acceptable, but the way in which he abruptly ends the relationship shows us it was not love that kept them together but physical passion. Mrs. Birling is the fourth character that is involved with Eva Smith. Mrs.Birling is married to Mr.Birling and is the mother of Eric and Sheila. She seems the more dominant member of the family, as it is recognisable that she makes most of the decisions in the household. She also tells Mr.Birling what to do in social situations. ...read more.

Conclusion

They seem more worried about their reputation than that a girl has just lost her life, they also seem to find it amusing." In the morning they'll be as amused as we are". Eric and Sheila still believe that what they did was wrong and the fact that the inspector was not real did not change anything and they still did bad things that could have caused another girl to commit suicide even if it wasn't Eva Smith. Gerald appears to want to forget it more than anything and return to normal. This difference in behaviour shows us that they have been brought up in different generations and have been taught to deal with certain situations in different ways. Mr and Mrs.Birling are from the older generation and they believe that their social status is everything. Eric and Sheila are of the younger generation and they feel genuinely sorry for what they did and. Gerald is once again in-between the two generations and he is a mixture of the two. Overall, even if the Birlings didn't contribute to Eva Smith's death they still used their power and position to take from the working class. Everything still happened and it shows us that attitudes at this time, towards others lower than them was rude, inappropriate, and in turn could have led to someone else's suicide. This also shows us that the Birlings represent more than themselves, but their whole class and that Eva represents her class and that the events that took place, happened on a daily basis without anyone knowing. Each character's attitude towards Eva slowly changed, as the generations grew younger. This indicates how social classes were slowly wiped away and that today's generations are more equal. By Steven Davis ...read more.

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