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

Explain how Priestely Uses the Characters to Show Us the Social and Political Situation in England in 1912

Extracts from this document...


Jaymal Nathwani 10G Explain how Priestely Uses the Characters to Show Us the Social and Political Situation in England in 1912 'An Inspector Calls' is set in 1912 England. The British Empire was very wealthy, successful and powerful however things were beginning to change. J.B.Priestley wrote the play in 1940, reflecting the changes that took place to both the social and political aspects of life in 1912. The Birling household is the set for the entire play, and Priestley uses Eva Smith and Inspector Goole as tools to portray his views on what happened during 1912. These views were of the rising power of socialism and the sinking of capitalism, which had been the way of life throughout the recently ended Victorian era. Arthur Birling, a rich upper-middle class factory owner symbolises the many capitalists in Britain. He is very narrow-minded and never open to suggestions due to his 'hard headed' and pompous nature. The Inspector represents the massive socialist force, which formed in Russia and spread to England in order to gain social justice for the working classes. During the play, the death of Eva Smith is used to portray how miserable and laborious the lives of working class girls were in England around 1912. ...read more.


Birling exploits Eva, just like he exploits all of his other working class girls. However, Eva shows her spirit at times, such as when she helps lead a protest for higher wages. Although she was sacked, Priestley used this to display the fact that socialism was in the background and if more and more people like Eva stood up for social justice then the capitalists would have to listen. Birling squashes Eva to show what would happen to anybody rebelling against his 'lower costs, higher prices' slogan. To him, Eva was just another 'crank'. Priestley however presents Eva as the direct opposite to Birling because he was a capitalist, and she was a socialist. Priestley makes his audience like Eva because she 'had been pretty' and was described to have 'no money coming in' and was also very lonely. Priestley uses this description of a promising young life gone to waste to guide the audience to supporting socialism, which he was a follower of himself. During the 'chain of events' that led to Eva's death, none of the Birling family took a moment to consider the consequences of their actions toward her. ...read more.


The fact that power, rank, status and wealth are all things which Gerald has, doesn't bother the Inspector because its all of these things which have led to the imbalance in society which has led to Eva's death in the first place. Gerald also has secrets, he chooses not to tell the inspector about his affair with Eva (Daisy Renton) and shows how people with power would use working class girls for sex. Priestly uses Gerald to highlight another fact about capitalists - the fact they abuse young working class girls, because they simply have the power to do so. The arrival of the inspector at the Birling residence is a very significant event, both literally and metaphorically. He knocks at the door, which signifies a change in the life of the Birling family and a change for capitalists everywhere in England. The timing of the Inspectors call also holds significance as it is during the middle of another pompous speech by Birling. This is a metaphor for the immediate interruption by socialism against capitalism. It also highlights one of the inspector's key messages - that the Birlings and all capitalists must change, and fast. The inspector's abrupt arrival to the Birling household is used by Priestley to highlight the rapid change which took place as socialism came knocking at capitalisms door. ...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. Why do you think Priestley chooses to set the play in 1912? What effect ...

    This shows how the underlying secrets within the family create lots of tension. Another example of this is when Arthur Birling tells Gerald about his possible Knighthood, then refuses to tell Eric about it when he enters. Priestley also uses repetition in order to build up tension, even before the

  2. An Inspector Calls. Explore the social and political views of the Birlings and the ...

    Tension is created when Lady croft did not attend her son's engagement to Sheila birling, this because Gerald's parents didn't want to be mixed with working class people. During 1912 there were also strong distinctions between upper and lower class.

  1. This is England - review

    Sean was horrified as Milky was once one of his closest friends. After this Sean changes his opinion of Combo realising he is an out and out racist. He then returns back to his childhood. Analysis of the opening sequence The opening sequence to 'This is England' sets the time

  2. How does Priestley convey the nature of 1912 England in An Inspector Calls? Evaluate ...

    This is very different from Mr Birling's views as he feels that "...a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own...", which is exactly the opposite of Inspector Goole's thoughts. The Inspector also says that if mankind does not learn their lesson, it will suffer in "...fire, blood and anguish."

  1. Analyse the character of Inspector Goole. Compare and contrast him with Arthur Birling. What ...

    He is described as creating 'an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness' (Act 1, p .11) this is a key characteristic, helping to explain his surprising ability to dominate the arrogant and two-faced Birling's and Gerald. He grows and remains solid when each of the other characters break down.

  2. Discuss Priestley's depiction of the Birling household and Gerald Croft, prior to the arrival ...

    Very early on in the play this becomes apparent, "Well, well - this is very nice. Very nice. Good dinner too Sybil. Tell cook for me." After this statement is made it becomes apparent that this is a blunder in manners by Birling.

  1. Explore and explain the numerous different ways in which the Inspector affects the characters ...

    Birling's whole attitude that people should look out for themselves only, showing in the process, that compared to Eric - his son, he is a very callous man and that he will continue to follow his personal philosophy on life of self-centredness and arrogance.

  2. What is J.B Priestley's vision of England in 1912?

    Birling does not care about Gerald's feelings towards Sheila; instead, he is more attentive to the idea that Crofts Limited and his own company will no longer be 'competing' but will be working 'together', since the Crofts Limited is more successful than his business.

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