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Compare And Contrast The Ways In Which Priestley Presents The Attitudes Of Birling And The Inspector Throughout The Play,

1924 words - 8 pages

The play An Inspector Calls is set in 1912,"Edwardian England" but written and first performed in 1945. This is very significant because between these two dates humanity witnessed or encountered many times of great suffering such as World War 1, World War 2 and the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic, which gives the reader a sense of continuity, that events will happen again and again unless people learn from previous mistakes. Social position was far more important in 1912. Many men often from humble origins who had been bold enough to invest in Industry made fortunes like Birling. Wealth allowed people to climb up the social and economic ladder which was as significant then as as ever before. Birling's society exhibited enormous divisions in society. It is thought that class divisions were never so acutely felt as by the Edwardians. 87% of the countries personal wealth could be found in the pockets of a mere 5% of the population. The rights of workers such as Eva Smith were not taken seriously at all they were looked upon by the factory owners e.g.Birling as humans which were to be used and abused for the employers benefit. The workers feelings were rarely taken into consideration. Employers like Birling only worried about maximising profit this is confirmed when Birling says that his hopes for the future are to" lower costs and higher prices" which will only be to the benefit of people like Birling who shows a clear arrogance towards working class people. Several factory owners, however, such as Cadbury, genuinely cared about their workers, building them houses in return for their hard work and loyalty. Sadly however Birling was typical of many Industrialists at the time. Britain's policy of Appeasement in the 1930's infuriated Priestley who believed the European dictators needed to be confronted to prevent a repeat of World War 1. The play gives a clear message against complacency that was being shown towards the European dictators in the 1930's, highlighting the need for humans to learn from their past mistakes. When the Inspector leaves the Birlings he says," We are responsible for each other and I tell you that the time will come soon when, If men will not learn that, then they will be taught it in blood fire and anguish" Here the Inspector is being used as a device to convey Priestly beliefs that men never did learn from their mistakes leading up to and eventually resulting in World War One; perhaps he is suggesting that the war may have been the result of self indulgent businessmen or politicians who never really worried about the effect war would have on millions of peoples lives, because it never directly affected the peoples lives who decided to send men to war.Priestley was a socialist meaning he strongly disagreed with the Capitalist structure that he believed promoted certain individuals above society. He strongly objected to greed above equality and middle class above working class. Therefore the Inspector is clearly used to...

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