Responsibility in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley Essay

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Responsibility in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

J.B Priestly wrote 'An Inspector Calls' just as the 2nd World War was coming to an end in 1945. The play was based in the time just before the 1st World War, around 1912. At this time the wealthy were considered superior to the poor, all this had to change, though, during the war, as all the classes were forced to mingle together in the armed forces, evacuation centres and in air raid shelters. The play shows all the members either accepting or rejecting responsibility; in this essay I will explain this.

In the opening scene of 'An Inspector Calls', we see a contented Mr Birling enjoying dinner whilst celebrating the engagement of his
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However, Gerald offers Mr Birling reassurance, saying to him, " Sure to be. Unless Eric's been up to something." This last comment was made jokingly, this shows Gerald believes the Inspector's arrival is all a joke, which is quite ironic as we later find out it is something very serious.

Mr Birling conveniently informs the Inspector of his place on 'the bench' and that he was Lord Mayor only two years ago. In doing this, Mr Birling tries to put himself above the Inspector from the offset of their conversation, as if to make the Inspector feel small and build up a wall so it's harder for the Inspector to make any kind of breakthrough. Mrs Birling also takes this route later on in the play when it's her turn for questioning, Sheila warns her against it, advising her quite wisely-

" You mustn't try to built up a kind of wall between us

and that girl. If you do, then the Inspector will just break

it down. And it'll be all the worst when he does."

This says to me that Sheila is mature and sensible; she can look at this situation and realise where her family is going wrong and try to sort out the problem sensibly, something Mr and Mrs Birling seem to have problems with.

Although the two older Birlings believe their social class voids them of responsibility for Eva Smith's death, the Inspector attempts to make them realise how closely

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