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

What do Mr Birling and Sheila show us about the historical context of “An Inspector Calls?”

Extracts from this document...


AN INSPECTOR CALLS What do Mr Birling and Sheila show us about the historical context of "An Inspector Calls?" 'An Inspector Calls' is a play written by a man called Priestley in the 1940's. The play is set in 1912 The play is about a middle to upper-class family, the Birlings, who lived in a town called Brumley. Its is based on a girl, Eva, who had commit suicide by drinking disinfectant. An Inspector who goes by the name of "Inspector Goole" had come to the Birlings house to investigate why Eva had committed suicide. It turns out that none of the members of the Birling family had committed a real crime but they had all driven her to suicide in some way. The moral of the play is to judge their consciences and there by our consciences to make us work together as "members of one body." Two characters represent the historical context are Mr Birling and Sheila. At the end of the play they show opposite poles of society. Mr Birling represents the older generation that has held on to values of years and years back. ...read more.


This shows that he is very worried about his reputation because if he does something wrong then he'll lose his chance of a knighthood. Mr Birling doesn't believe in the inspectors quote, "we are all members of one body." He thinks that we should just fight our own battles and not look after or help others. When talking to Gerald and Eric, Mr Birling says, " but the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive - community and all that nonsense." And, " I can't accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn't it? Mr Birling aims to make as much money as possible to enable him to live his upper class life. When discussing business with Gerald, his daughter's fianc�, Mr Birling says "lower costs, higher prices." Mr Birling wants the highest prices for the goods produced in his factory but is determined to pay the lowest wages to the lower class that work for him. ...read more.


If the right power of the upper class were added to the working class then society really would change for the better. The house finally collapses due to the crimes that the family has committed. When the house goes back up again it doesn't return to that nice, warm, jolly house like it was. Instead it is in shambles. There is broken crockery and glass everywhere. This represents their new lives. They can never 'repair' their lives properly after what happened, like I could never repair a broken plate after being dropped. At the side of the stage there was a telephone box, just outside the Birlings house. This is to show the 'outside' world. At the end the older generation, for example Mr Birling, go inside. This is to show that they won't change and no matter what has happened they still want to be known as the higher class. From the essay I have concluded that Sheila represents the younger generation of the time and the future of society. Her purpose in the play was to show the audience the change in society between 1912 and the 1940's. Mr Birling represents the older generation of the time and his purpose was to show us what pre-1912 upper-class family was like. Between them they show a change in society. By David Lorenzo ...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. The Inspector is ‘an embodiment of a collective conscience’. How real is the character ...

    (Page 51 As soon as the Inspector begins his interrogation Eric asks for a drink, even though Mr. Birling resents this, the Inspector says: " -but look at him. He needs a drink now just to see him through.") This shows that Inspector Goole knows Eric's conscience.

  2. How do various attitudes reflect Social, Cultural and Historical values, both of the time ...

    feelings and says "Well, why shouldn't we?", showing that she has learned absolutely nothing from the night's events. To summarise, Mrs Birling not only shows that she has not changed at all in her opinions at the end of the play but she shows very little sign of wavering from it during the action either.

  1. How do various attitudes, in your opinion, reflect Social, Cultural and Historical values, both ...

    This idea is given credence when, after Sheila sarcastically remarks "We can all go on behaving just as we did�, Mrs Birling takes her comments as her true feelings and says "Well, why shouldn't we?�, showing that she has learned absolutely nothing from the night's events.

  2. Explore how Priestley prepares the audience for the play as a whole in Act ...

    When the Inspector shows Sheila the photograph, she instantly recognises it, so much in fact she has to leave the room. When she enters again, she admits that she did sack her for being jealous. She shows knowledge of the error of her ways when she says "I felt rotten at the time and now I feel a lot worse."

  1. Examine How Priestley Uses a Variety of Dramatic Devices To Highlight the Theme of ...

    evident when he is describing what happened to Eva - "a young woman drank some disinfectant, and died, after several hours of agony, tonight in the Infirmary"..............."she wanted to end her life. She felt she couldn't go on any longer."

  2. How does J B Priestley deliver his moral message in “An Inspector Calls”?

    - Mr Birling, Page 7 These two quotes alone show Mr Birling's pompousness. Priestley has chosen to mention the Titanic because many people believed that it was unsinkable. Mr Birling in particular is shown to look foolish, as a result of his belief in Titanic staying afloat and war not breaking out.

  1. How does the film enhance the original Script of “An Inspector Calls”?

    The film showed the comment about being on the best behaviour to be a joke for all via spanning the camera to reveal the family and Gerald to be laughing or having an amused smile on their face. The first major bit of drama to occur was the arrival of

  2. Why is the play “An Inspector Calls” still a popular play today?

    We witness a transition of a happy family turning into a family full of secrets and lies, adding intense drama that will keep an audience interested. "But I didn't know it was you - I never dreamt" - Mrs Birling to Eric.

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