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

    Sheila has broken up with Gerald due to the recent discovery of his affair and whilst some people, namely Mr and Mrs Birling are left in denial, the younger generation are traumatised and emotional. Even Eric admits to his father his true thoughts 'you are not a man a son can go to' leaving even more upset within the family.

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

    He leaves her in a worse state than either Arthur or Sheila had, accepts little responsibility, and still sides with Birling and his capitalist views. Mrs Birling is ignorant and prejudice throughout the play as she hears and witnesses the confessions of her fellow table members.

  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. 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.

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

    The Inspector Listens carefully, asking more questions to get a fuller picture, or if he knows that Eric is holding back some information. The socialists in the audience would be shocked that the whole family could do something so unpleasant to a girl for such trivial reasons such as smiling

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

    Two big examples of this is when Mr Birling is talking about the war coming up explaining to Eric that there is no chance of war. 'And I say there isn't a chance of war' and 'the world's developing so fast that it make war impossible' It dramatic irony because

  1. How does J.B Priestly Demonstrate the importance of collective responsibility in an 'Inspectors Calls

    Mr Birling refused and they all went on strike but soon they were running low on money so all asked for there job mr Birling allowed them to comeback but they werent allowed a raise there were a few ringleaders and sacked them Eva was one of them.


    These quotes suggest that Mr Birling is extremely convinced about his predictions and does not want to give it second thought. He is a narrow-minded man who cannot think further then his own predictions. Mr Birling is another one of those men who thinks he is always right.

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