An Inspector Calls: Do you think Mrs Birling is more to blame for the death than the other characters?

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Do you think that Mrs Birling is more to blame for the death of Eva Smith than the other characters? Give reasons for your answer.


Priestley uses the Birling family to demonstrate to the audience of his play the possible consequences to their actions. Mrs Birling refused to give support to Eva Smith when she appealed to the charity for help.  Mrs Birling claims ‘I was perfectly justified in advising my committee not to allow her claim for assistance’. This illustrates her ‘rather cold’ and selfish personality.  She was unwilling to help the girl because of her working class status. She blames ‘the young man who was the father of the child’. The playwright is suggesting that wealthier people such as the Birling’s feel responsibility for only themselves; this is reminiscent of capitalist views.

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Furthermore, much of the play’s success was reliant upon the dramatic irony which Priestley creates. We see this in Mr Birling’s flamboyant expression of his faith in technology, claiming that the Titanic was ‘absolutely unsinkable’. Just like the audience who first saw the play in 1946, we identify that he is mistaken, and so we assume that other views are equally wrong. Mr Birling fired Eva Smith from her job at the factory. However, he claims ‘I can’t accept any responsibility’ for her suicide. The audience are likely to disagree with his statement as a consequence of his earlier ...

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