• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Theme of an Inspector Calls is Collective Responsibility. How Does J.B. Priestley present this as the Drama Unfolds?

Extracts from this document...


Louise Squires The Theme of an Inspector Calls is Collective Responsibility. How Does J.B. Priestley present this as the Drama Unfolds? Priestley's play; 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1944-5 but was set in 1912. It is interesting that Priestly set the story just before the First World War, having written it just after the Second World War; when the idea of people and countries are collectively responsible for what happens in other parts of the globe just as much as they are responsible to themselves and immediate family. Priestley sets the scene in the front room of middle to upper class family, headed by Arthur Birling, together with his wife, two children, fianc�, maid and unexpected visitor of Inspector Goole. The scene never leaves the original set of the front room. Priestley takes us through the drama exposing each individual for their bad behaviour towards others and their lack of responsibility to the less fortunate and to society as a whole. Is 'Eva smith' the same girl, each abused in their own way? Or was she a totally different person in case? Priestly shows us through the dialogue that each of the characters has not only a responsibility to Eva, but also collectively to each other. ...read more.


A robust character he fills the stage with a purposefulness of trying to make the family see the errors of their ways and be more responsible for their actions as individuals and collectively. As the drama unfolds each character appears to have known Eva Smith in some way. Birling hired Eva at his factory, she asked for a pay rise but Mr Birling would not give it to her. On one hand, Eric believed this to be perfectly fine, while Gerald's view was that she was causing trouble. She only wanted a little more money to live on. But Birling was having none of it, so he discharged her! 'Well, it's my duty to keep labour costs down, and if I'd agreed to this demand for a new rate we'd have added twelve percent to our labour costs.' At first, Birling was very anxious as to why he had anything to do with Eva Smith's suicide. 'As it happened more than eighteen months ago-nearly two years ago-obviously it has nothing whatever to do with the wretched girl's suicide.' He did not believe or understand that this had anything to do with him or his family until the play unfolded, even then could not recognise his part in the tragedy. ...read more.


Sheila and Eric though responsible for their part in Eva's death eventually do realise their mistakes and refuse to go on pretending. While the Birlings' and Gerald still close their eyes, believing it to be Sheila and Eric's age as to their change of attitude, the door bell rings again and an Inspector Calls! Was Priestley in this play reminding us that we are responsible not only for ourselves, for our family, but we are responsible for all of the world's population? What we do today has a knock on effect to those of tomorrow. He wrote the play after the world had seen two world wars. The first believed to be the war to end all wars and yet within 21 years another war had begun - an inspector calling for the second time. Birling to Eric - 'Glad you mentioned it, Eric. I'm coming to that. Just because the Kaiser makes a speech or two. Or a few German officers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense; you'll hear some people say that war in inevitable. And to that I say- fiddlesticks! The Germans don't want war. Nobody wants war except some half civilised folks in the Balklands. And why? There are too much at stake these days and everything to lose and nothing to gain by war.' ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. In what ways does J B Priestley present the effect of the Inspectors visit ...

    about the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the Great Depression within a generation, but Arthur says: "In 1940...you'll be living in a world that'll for-gotten all these Capital versus labour agitations." The several historical facts I have referred to above has proved Arthur incorrect and this is acknowledged by the audience.

  2. Post-1914 drama 'An Inspector Calls' by J B Priestley - Consider act one of ...

    war that is bad for business, he also comments on the marvels of his day, the great Titanic, and its invincibility. "The Titanic- she sails next week-forty six thousand eight hundred tonnes- New York in five days- and every luxury- and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable."

  1. How does Priestley make a drama out of the theme of social responsibility in ...

    In 1921 there was a General Strike affecting most industries. This is dramatic irony. Priestley uses it to make the audience realise what a shock all of these events must have been to the nation. The country had its moral and social values set, a war can change values dramatically, bring the classes closer together.

  2. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    The subject also indicates to the audience the way that the victim, in this case Eva, felt. It shows the shame that she experienced through the societies disapproval of her situation. It also gives the audience an insight into how they influence people of that class, so therefore should be more responsible in their actions.

  1. Who is responsible for the death of Eva Smith? Pay close attention in your ...

    "You recognise her?" "No. Why should I?" As a last resort, Eva had turned to the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation for help. There Mrs. Birling refused her help because she didn't like her attitude. "I didn't like her manner. She'd impertinently made use of our name."

  2. J.B. Priestly was a playwright concerned with the ideas of capitalism, socialism, individual and ...

    ' The Titanic-she sails next week-forty-six thousand eight hundred tons- New York in five days- and every luxury- and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable' We know it is dramatic irony because the Titanic hit a ice burg on the way to New York and sink on the April 14th 1912 about 5 days after Mr Birling mentions it.

  1. An Inspector CallsJ. B. Priestley - How does Priestley make a drama out of ...

    Unlike the Inspector, Mr. Birling sees the world differently. We have gathered Mr. Birling comes from a poor background, at least not an upper class one. Coming from a poor family, you would expect him to understand that people need to help one another, like the Inspector does. Unfortunately, Mr.

  2. 1st draft How does J B Priestly use the characters in Act Three of ...

    As the Inspector is drawing his investigation to a close he addresses the family, he is less stern towards Sheila than to Mr Birling because Sheila is showing remorse for what she has done and wishes that she had not.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work