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The inspector calls

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The inspector calls The play was written at the end of the Second World War, and performed a year later; it tells the tale of how a middle class family from the midlands are tied up inexplicably with the fate of a young woman who tragically commits suicide. It is set in 1912 (two years before the First World War) in the fictional town of Brumley. The fact that the play was set just before world war one is very significant to the message within the play. The gap between the upper classes and the working classes was very large, and thus there was a great social prejudice between these classes, something which plays a massive part in the play. It has to be understood that Priestly, the writer of the play, had been alive during both world wars, and wanted to express how even though Britain had been through the two most significant events of recent history, her society hadn't changed much since before the two great wars. Living conditions for the working class was still very bad, with most people earning barely enough money to get feed themselves, let alone their families. Poverty was also rife in these conditions, as there was no national health service, and therefore many of the working classes contracted (what we would consider trivial) ...read more.


It was this socialism that many believed Britain should have embraced after World War One, yet there was no change, either between the wars or the time immediately after the last one. These flashes of a better Britain, which ironically happened during the wars, could be represented by Birling when he is being attacked by the Inspector. Birling changed during this time of the play, in that instead of being the self confident businessman, he turned paranoid about his public image, and became worried about what sentence might be imposed on him and his family for the death of Eva Smith. However, all this apprehension seems to disappear when Gerald discovers that there is no Inspector Goole, and that no woman has committed suicide at the infirmary for years, Birling starts making jokes about the whole affair, which despite lacking tact for the others (especially Sheila and Eric), also shows that despite having been shown where his faults lie, he had no desire for change; "You all helped to kill her... and I wish you could have seen the look on your faces when he said that." (3, 71) I believe that Birling showed this attitude so that Priestley could portray how he believed Britain was in danger of acting through a war, and then afterwards returning to the way life was like before. ...read more.


Another example of Birling's speech is on page 9 (last speech on the page). This speech appears just before the inspector calls at the Birling household. Director's notes: As Birling is talking to Eric and Gerald, his voice should remain fairly soft throughout the monologue, as if he is speaking secretly and intimately. Also, he should speak slowly and articulately, to enhance the fact that he is trying to put across a message to the two young men in front of him. Birling's hand movements will also be important, especially when he is dismissing a thought which, in his mind, is utterly stupid. For example, when he mentions "community and all that nonsense", Birling should wave his hand as though he is making a half-hearted attempt at swatting a fly, therefore dismissing the idea in an instant. Also, Birling should sound proud when he says "I've learnt from the good hard school of experience", as if he has achieved something by using this "school". In conclusion, I believe that Birling is an essential character to the general message of the play, as he is the epitome of Britain at the time at which the play was set - the way in which Britain changed through times of war was tantamount to how Birling changed when the inspector started his questioning. Along with the inspector, Birling is the most important character in the play, conveying a message about how the playwright perceived Britain to be at the time. ...read more.

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