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J B Priestley uses the Inspector and the other characters to put across a clear message about the responsibility those in privileged positions have towards less fortunate members of society. How does he achieve he purpose?

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Introduction

J B Priestley uses the Inspector and the other characters to put across a clear message about the responsibility those in privileged positions have towards less fortunate members of society. How does he achieve he purpose? This play was written in 1945 and is set in 1912. During the play J B Priestley uses the characters to put across a message about the fact that everybody has responsibility for others, particularly those in privileged positions, who have responsibility towards those less fortunate members of society, but tend not to do anything about it. The point in the play where the idea of people having responsibility for others is most prominent is in my opinion is the Inspector's valedictory speech, his parting shot. This is a dramatic device: J B Priestley is using the Inspector as his mouthpiece. He is putting across his message through the inspector's didactic words. He basically says that when you gain a privilege you also by default gain responsibility. At this point the plot just stops, no-one is doing anything except the inspector, and this causes the audience also to stop and fall silent. It also has an ethical and moral dimension to it which shows that it is the personal opinion of someone; Priestley is putting across his side of the argument. ...read more.

Middle

Priestley uses him as an example of what is happening in the world at the time and what he wants to get rid of: Privileged people not showing any responsibility for others. When we see Birling is doing exactly the opposite of what Priestley (via the Inspector) wants we could react in many ways, we might dislike him, we might consider that everything he says is wrong, or some people might have sympathy for him as he is only saying what the majority of people thought at that time. Mr Birling is also a good example of effects of action, because in sacking Eva Smith, he started her journey to "the slab". He didn't think of what might happen in the future, all he cared about was himself at that moment. In sacking Eva Smith, Birling feels he is being a responsible manager, because he is sacking ringleaders who cause trouble. This shows he does have a sense of responsibility but it is not necessarily always correct. The first sign that Mr Birling does not take responsibility for Eva Smith's death is on page 14: "If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward." ...read more.

Conclusion

Mrs Birling doesn't accept responsibility for what has happened and on page 45, she tries to shift the blame away from herself. "go and look for the father, it's his responsibility" So even though she has the money to help someone else, she doesn't feel it is her responsibility. However this shows that she does have a sense of responsibility because she knows it is mainly the father's responsibility. In doing this Mrs Birling is again trying to shift the blame away from herself because she doesn't feel she is responsible for Eva Smith's death. "I accept no blame for it at all" At the end of act two, Priestley uses Mrs Birling in a dramatic device to emphasise his point that people have a responsibility for others. In this build up of melodrama on page 47, Priestley uses Mrs Birling to condemn her own son, because she believes you should expose the person who is responsible for the action. "Secondly I blame the young man who was the father...he should be made an example of. If the girl's death is due to anybody, then it's due to him." Mrs Birling is also an example of effects of action, because she didn't give Eva Smith any help or money, it ultimately drove her to her suicide. ...read more.

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