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

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Introduction

"We don't live alone, we are members of one body, we are responsible for each other." What is Priestley's main aim in An Inspector Calls and how successfully does he achieve it? The play An Inspector Calls is set in 1912 but written in 1945. Edwardians society in 1912 was strictly divided in social classes and most of the nation's wealth was in the hands of less than one percent of the population. J.B. Priestley was writing the play for a middle class audience; people like doctors, merchants, shop workers and clerks. He was trying to speak up for the working class by showing how the Birlings and Gerald Croft were all involved in making a young working class girl's life, a misery. Priestley wants to show us that we have a responsibility for others and to act fairly and without prejudice. He wants up to know that we do not live in Isolation. As the play was written in 1945 but set in 191, Priestley can successfully make a mockery of Mr Birling, one of the most important characters in the play; "Just because the Kaiser makes a speech or two, you'll hear some people saying that the war is inevitable. ...read more.

Middle

Mr Birling seems more worried about his reputation than the fact that he helped lead a young girl to suicide. And when he finds out, at the end of the play, that there was no Inspector Goole, he is relieved and the fact that everything the inspector said could have happened, he dismisses the possibility at once. Priestley has deliberately created the character, Mr Birling, to behave like this. He thinks it will help make the middle class people realise how ugly arrogance is and make them think about their actions. He has very successfully achieved this using Mr. Birling, who was never going to accept his part in the blame for the death of Eva Smith. However, Sheila Birling is much more considerate and distressed when she hears of Eva Smith's death. She believes she is partley responsible fwith the rest of her family and Fiance. Sheila seems to learn her lesson. She regrets her actions and promises "I will never do it again." Sheila, unlike her father, seems to have a conscience. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the very beginning of the play, the Birlings seem to put money over anything else, when they quickly change the topic of conversation from marriage and Sheila's happiness, to business. It is the Birling's class that makes them look down on those who were not as fortunate. Priestley sets the play in the Birling's "substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike" house. This is what helps us picture in our minds what the Birlings are like. Mr. Birling also has a very proud and ignorant attitude, which makes us understand that he is capable of behaving in such a manner, towards a girl who isn't as rich. Mr Birling boasts all the way through the play, and tries to make the inspector feel intimidated, using statements such as "I was an alderman for years - and Lord Major two years ago - an I'm still on the Bench." Mr Birling seems to be heavily hinting to the inspector that he has authority over him. Mr Birling consequently is taken aback when Inspector Goole didn't treat him with the respect he thought he deserved. The overall message in An Inspector Calls is that we shouldn't become so involved in our own lives that we forget about other people. ...read more.

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