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Comparing The Ways In Which Priestley Presents The Attitudes Of Birling And The Inspector Throughout An Inspector Calls

2265 words - 9 pages

Comparing the Ways in Which Priestley Presents the Attitudes of Birling and the Inspector Throughout An Inspector Calls

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...

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