An Inspector Calls Extract - Act One. W h a t d o e s t h i s e x t r a c t r e v e a l a b o u t ? M r B i r l i n g P r i e s t l e y s o p i n i o n s

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What does this extract reveal about?

  • Mr Birling
  • Priestley’s opinions

In An Inspector Calls, Mr Birling represents Capitalism and is everything Priestley wants to eradicate in 1945. His ideology is apparent throughout the entire extract, stating, “You’ll be living in a world that’ll have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour agitations...” At the time the play premiered two weeks after the war had ended in the Soviet Union in 1945 when the Labour party was becoming more and more predominant in the United Kingdom. The second ever Labour Prime Minister, Atlee was elected and Priestly was likely influencing the unconvinced that socialism is a better ideology. There is also dramatic irony because audience know that Labour was not forgotten as the century progressed it in fact popularised.

Mr Birling makes many incorrect predictions and therefore is much dramatic irony such as “there isn’t a chance of war and “absolutely unsinkable” when he refers to the Titanic which the audience of course knows sank the week following the engagement party and that two years following this the First World War began. This proves that Priestley thinks capitalism is an act of egotism Priestley is annoyed about the fact that the upper-class businessman, such as Birling, had no outlook on others and particularly the working class. He is blind to the issues of the day and has a false optimism for the future because he has the inability to analyse the world around him. He states, “you can ignore all this silly pessimistic talk...” The speech is employed as a device by Priestley to show Mr Birling’s naiveté and ignorance. Through this, a stereotypical image of a capitalistic businessman with inherent heartlessness is created.

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Furthermore, Birlings dislike for socialism and his belief of how inferior those who hold this ideology are illustrated when he states, “there will be peace and prosperity everywhere-except in Russia which will always be behind naturally.” At the time in Russia, Lenin and the revolutionary social movement, communism was appearing for the first time and in 1940 there was no peace anywhere as the world had entered the Second World War. Birling clearly believed that socialists cannot be successful and affluent in the world. He believes to be successful one has to be selfish.

Many of his statements also seem ...

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