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To what extent is the inspector a dramatic device used by JB Prietley to articulate his views on politics and society?

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Introduction

Inspector Calls Coursework To what extent is the inspector a dramatic device used by JB Prietley to articulate his views on politics and society? This is the question I've been asked to carry out, throughout my coursework I am going to pursue the way in which he uses the inspector as his center device to get his views and opinions on society at that time. One of Priestley's reasons for writing "An Inspector Calls" was to make a point about the way people behaved in society at the time. He wrote his characters to reflect what people were actually like and what they believed in . Mr. and Mrs Birling are the typical affluent couple of the age, looking down on the working class as less than human and unimportant. Mrs Birling even dismisses her by saying "Girls of that class". They are caught up in their own sense of importance and respectability and fail to see what's really important. Mr. Birling believes he's just responsible for himself and his family, but Priestley doesn't believe that this view of life is right. Priestley uses the Inspector to challenge the views of the Birling family and also the audience. Through the Inspector's questioning, and as events involving Eva Smith are revealed, we learn that we are all caught up together, "like bees in a hive," and our actions do have consequences on others. Eric and Sheila learn from what the Inspector has to teach them, whereas the others do not. One of the most important themes which Priestley conveys in An Inspector Calls, is that we all share responsibility for other people's welfare, and that wealthy people have obligations to look after those less fortunate than themselves. Not only does Mr. Birling represent this aspect of selfishness, but when he begins to transmit these principles to the younger generation the Inspector calls to teach an alternative way of thinking and behaving. ...read more.

Middle

We are shown that Eric and Sheila can learn that they have acted badly and the Inspector manages to change their lives and their outlooks forever. Their parents contrast with them, and the play makes us question what sort of a character we would prefer to be. What would we do with all the Eva Smiths and John Smiths out there? Priestley's socialist views are most clearly represented by the Inspector, although both Sheila and Eric echo his sentiments at different parts in the play. These views are directly contradictory to the way that Mr. and Mrs. Birling see and do things. Priestley's main point in this play is to show that we are a community, and, whether we like it or not, we all are responsible for the other people who share our community with us. All of the characters sitting down to dinner in the Birling household are responsible for the fate of one girl, however not all of them choose to see their responsibilities, preferring to believe that a man has to "look after himself and his own." Priestley partially shows his own voice by ridiculing Mr. Birling through showing the pompous man to be in basic error about so many things, such as the Titanic being unsinkable and war not breaking out. The audience would know that he is wrong, and that lends more credence to what Priestley is saying. Sheila and Eric learn from what the Inspector teaches them about responsibility. Sheila herself explains: "I remember what he said, how he looked, and what he made me feel. Fire and blood and anguish." Through the Inspector, Priestley shows us that being wealthy is not enough, nor is being successful. What that status means is that we have to take on responsibilities for others in our society. We cannot have these privileges without the responsibility. "Public men Mr. Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges" Priestley is trying to teach his audience about responsibility for others. ...read more.

Conclusion

They have completely fallen apart, to the point where Eric almost hits his mother. They all feel guilty at this point, which allows the Inspector to take charge. Look carefully at how he has manipulated them to this point - inspecting them in a particular order and to a very specific time limit. The Inspector now has the full attention of the characters and the audience, so he can make the point that he has been leading up to all night. They can do nothing to help Eva Smith, but there are millions of people just like her who need help. The Inspector tells us how important it is to take care of each other - if people are made to suffer, we will suffer too. The words, 'We are members of one body,' is at the heart of the socialist message of the play - we must take responsibility for the welfare of others - not just our own. It is not just directed towards the Birlings; we are expected to respond to this message as well. This moment is already full of tension, but the Inspector's final sentences raise the tension even more with their foreboding. He tell us that if we don't listen to him then we will have to pay the price in 'fire and blood and anguish.' Our lives can never be the same. Many people believe that these words were actually a prediction of World Wars I and II and even the Russian Revolution. People did not learn the Inspector's lesson, which is why the Holocaust happened. It is also because of these words that we become so angry when it seems later on that the Birlings are going to get away with it. We feel that the Inspector has lied to us and that people like them will not have to suffer. This is why the ending is such a relief (and a surprise!) to us - it seems the Birlings are not going to get away with it after all. ...read more.

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