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'Inspector Goole is the ghostly voice of conscience' - How far do you agree with this view of 'An inspector Calls' by J.B Priestley?

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Introduction

'Inspector Goole is the ghostly voice of conscience'. How far do you agree with this view of 'An inspector Calls' by J.B Priestley? First, in order to consider if 'Inspector Goole is the ghostly voice of conscience' we must first determine what the play is written about and what messages it portrays. The text is based upon a middle class family from the Edwardian era, this is the same circumstances that Priestly was raised in. The text carries with it cryptic messages throughout the play, constant contrasts keep re-appearing in the play back to remind and criticize the middle class of the time (1946). One of the predominant features of the play was the time it was set in. Set just slightly before the war (1912), this gave the play a wide scope allowing more controversial comments to be made, this also allowed predictions to be made by both the inspector and Mr Birling. The message of the play was particularly effective to the audiences of 1946. Priestley knew that the message of his play would reach the war-weary audiences of the era more effectively than it would reach the audiences of a different time. The "fire and blood and anguish" reference to the First and Second World Wars would be very influential to the audience. The intended effect of the predictions made by Birling and the Inspector was to make the audience see a glimpse of the kind of person the predictive character is. In the case of Birling, the audience would see him as a character whose opinion is not to be trusted, whereas the predictions made by the Inspector chill the audience and make them see that the lesson he speaks of has been re-taught through fire and blood and anguish twice already. The inspector is effectively used as a method of show how priestly felt about attitudes that were present at the time amongst many of the people who would be in his audience. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that he is more interested in his business than the welfare of his workers. Eventually the workers went on strike, and Eva Smith was sacked for being a ringleader. He thinks that people like Eva Smith should be put in their place, and if they do something such as ask for a higher rate of pay, they should be sacked, regardless if they cannot get another job, and another person should replace them. He simply thinks of them as statistics, as numbers which he can manipulate as he pleases. He sees Eva Smith as someone below him in society, and not as a real person. When Sheila Birling hears about Eva Smith's death or suicide, she is horrified. She asks the inspector questions about her and her death, and she does not realise that she could have played a part in her death or in the chain of events that lead to her death. She is disgusted at Mr Birling when the inspector suggests that he thinks of people like Eva as cheap labour. "But these girls are not cheap labour, they're people" Sheila feels genuinely sorry for Eva, and says that she was very lucky when she heard that she got a job at Millwards. When the inspector shows her a photograph, she gets upset, and runs out the room. When she re-enters the room she has evidently been crying, and she has realised who Eva Smith is. Sheila feels guilty for getting Eva Smith sacked from Millwards, for a very insignificant reason. "I felt rotten about it at the time, and now I feel a lot worse." She says that she feels sorry for Eva Smith because she realises that she caused Eva to lose her last stable job. Although in the social hierarchy of the time, Eva Smith was below Sheila, Sheila sees her more as an equal and regrets what she did to get her sacked. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows that the older generation believe strongly in the class hierarchy, which causes them to see people who they class as 'below' them, not as human beings, but as workers who are there simply to bring in money for them. They appear detached from the real world. J.B Priestly shows us the they have not changed their attitudes at all through out the play, especially toward the end, where they try to go back to the way they were, when the inspector has left, and Gerald proves that he is not really a police inspector. J.B Priestly shows us that Sheila Birling's attitude has changed dramatically toward the end of the play. Sheila regrets what she did, and sees the wrong in what everyone did, and sees Eva Smith as an equal human being, who deserves as good a chance as anyone. I think that Sheila has learnt the most from their 'experience' with the Inspector, and has changed her attitudes towards people because of it Gerald tried to help Eva Smith out, as he saw her getting into trouble, and tried to help her but in the end she ended up worse off than when she started. Eric took advantage of her when he was drunk, and impregnated her. He did however try to help her out afterwards, by giving her money. He was probably the last straw that led to her death. At the end of the play however, J.B Priestly shows that he has changed, and regrets what he did. At the end of the play, my final opinion of Eva Smith is that she was unfortunate, on many occasions, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After losing her job twice, she did not have anywhere to go, and got caught up in the lives of people such as Gerald Croft, and Eric Birling. These incidents got her into more and more trouble, and being refused help from the Brumly Women's Charity was probably the last straw that drove her to suicide. Se�n McConville ...read more.

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