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"We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." What is Preistley's main aim in "An Inspector Calls"? How successfully does he achieve it?

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Introduction

"AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J.B.Priestley What is Priestley's main aim in "An Inspector Calls"? How successfully does he achieve it? By D.Hendy "AN INSPECTOR CALLS". A Play By J.B. Preistley "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." What is Preistley's main aim in "An Inspector Calls"? How successfully does he achieve it? Preistley's main intension in "An Inspector Calls" is to show the immorality in society. He accomplishes this by having each character take on a separate stereotype of pre-war society. Birling is the industrious businessman, cold hearted and tight fisted. Mrs. Birling is the bossy, maternal wife who has no sympathy for any one who crosses her strict moral barriers. Eric, the son, is a loose cannon, a young man with mean parents who he cannot look to for help. Sheila is the almost spoilt daughter, who is all too quick to use her power, but still feels remorse later. Gerald is a slightly mature Eric. Still a bit irresponsible, he has the right set of morals and is engaged to Sheila at the beginning of the play. Finally, Inspector Goole is the collective conscience of the group. Each of the characters matures slightly over the course of the play, excluding the parents who seem to be set in their ways. Right the way through the play Birling shows himself to be steadfastly rightwing. His views on society are that there is no such thing and that it is every man for himself. He is shown as having few kind emotions and is mostly celebrating Shelia's wedding because of the business opportunities it will bring. Preistley is trying to show that these views are wrong. He does this at two levels. One is the more obvious - he has been cast as the evil character that is mean to everyone. The other way is subtler. ...read more.

Middle

One interesting point in this is that he says that he will not go to a prostitute, but that Birling's friends are quite ready to. This shows that Preistley's disgust at the double standards abundant in the upper echelons of the society at the time. It describes how the rich businessmen, so full of supposed morals, used prostitutes, something supposedly against their ethical code. Continuously through the play, Eric is shown to be opposed to his father and his father's friends. When Eva tells Eric that she is pregnant, Eric reacts badly, but says this was because he had no one to talk to about it. I think Preistley was trying to get across that the rich had become so emotionally unattached that they cannot communicate with their own family. When he comes to the theft of �200 from his father's office he does not admit it is wrong because the money was taken for a desperate cause - that of a pregnant women. This shows that Eric was prepared to break set society rules for what he thought of as the higher good. At the end of the play, Eric joins Shelia in the admittance of their guilt and how it does not matter whether there is a scandal as they have still done wrong. In Eric, Preistley shows a moral character, set against his parents, only bent on appearing good in public. Shelia, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Birling is used as a direct contrast to Eva Smith right the way through the play. Shelia had successful parents and has lived in luxury since she was born. Eva's parents were probably unable to provide even the most basic of upbringings for her. While Shelia is rich and has a high chance of making something of her life, Eva's biggest success before she died was that she managed to get a job at a high quality store. I think Preistley's problem is not with Shelia's character, but with her position in life. ...read more.

Conclusion

This element of justice is the one thing that makes the Inspector. Right the way through the book he insists on being just. He is definitely a left-winger as this quote shows: Inspector "We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." The Inspector makes some eerily accurate predictions through the play, this being the most interesting: Inspector "then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night." This is an obvious prediction to World War 1, which Preistley indirectly blames on conservatives like Birling who had already caused untold damage to society. This quote is also from the communion, which shows the Inspector's religious connection and mystifies the reader even more about who he really is. The Inspector's identity is further mystified when the cast find that he is not a registered police officer. Overall Preistley used Goole as his own persona in the play. He shares exactly the same views as Preistley. Right through the play he takes the moral high ground and the audience gets the impression that he is always right and is almost omniscient. The play-writ uses this is the same way he used Birling. Having the character with the views that Preistley disagreed with being always wrong and the character that embodies Preistley's views always right gives the subtle message to the audience that Preistley is right. After looking over the play my views of Preistley's aim have changed. He mainly uses it as a way to get his ideas across in a stronger way than just stating them. Contained in this play are Preistley's views on communism, war and fascism. Of course Preistley was trying to show what an immoral society we lived in but first and foremost he was trying to tell the world what he thought. Whether he achieved this or not depends on your viewpoint but in my opinion he defiantly succeeded and I finished the play feeling I had learnt something about human nature. ...read more.

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