How does Priestley present the different generations in "An Inspector Calls"?

Authors Avatar by epicfinleygmailcom (student)

The older and younger generation are represented clearly from the start of the play. The older generation include Mr and Mrs Birling and the younger Sheila and Eric. One of the major differences between the generations is that the young are honest and admit their faults. Eric refuses to try to cover his part up, saying, "the fact remains that I did what I did.". An interesting feature of this phrase is use of the word ‘I’ which demonstrates to the audience that Eric personally blames himself for his actions and takes responsibility – rather than the older generations who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and instead choose to blame it on others.

At the start of the play, Sheila is told that she must learn to deal with men ‘working all the time’, just as her mother did. This demonstrates the extent of gender in equalities in 1912. Sheila’s disagreement with her mother illustrates to the audience the extent of the gap between the younger generations and older generations as her mother accepts that her father’s work had to take him away from the family but Sheila will not accept this with Gerald as seen by the phrase “I don’t believe I will” – this shows how Sheila often likes to challenge what the older generations say and believe.
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Sheila speaks mostly in short interjections such as seen from the phrase “What’s all this about”. This emphasises to the audience her lack of voice as a young woman in 1912. At the start she does not have a place in the world of ‘hard-headed’ businessmen. This is further seen by the way her mother and father both speak to her in a highly patronising tone as if she has nothing of importance to say. For example, her mother says ‘What an expression Sheila!’. This shows how the older generation are shocked at her challenging her brother by ...

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