Moral Messages In An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

2145 words - 9 pages

Moral Messages in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

Priestley wrote an Inspector Calls in 1945 - just before the end of
WW2. However, The play itself is set in 1912 - just before the start
of WW1, and in Edwardian England. Priestley was a socialist writer who
had left wing political views with very strong beliefs; he enjoyed
using types of theatre to get his messages across.

When the platy was set, there was a lot of historical events going on
at the time; Titanic, Captain Scott falling to reach S Pole,
Suffragette movement campaigning for women's rights, worker striking
for better pay and conditions, Russia unrest, no NHS/DHSS, and no help
from state for poor. All of these are mentioned in the play at some
point - either briefly or to get messages across. In Edwardian times -
when the play was set - class was deemed as being very important. You
were expected to know your class and stick to it. The Birling's were
wealthy middle-class landowners; they were well respected and had
hopes of climbing the social ladder.

Mr. Birling had hopes of a knighthood, putting him in high up in the
social status, and he was the owner of a factory he had a lot of
power. This was shown when he got rid of Eva Smith. Although we only
see him speak of the event, you can tell from the way he speaks about
it - "they suddenly decided to ask for more money…I refused, of
course", and then after questioned why, he replied, "I don't see that
it's any concern of yours how I choose to run my business." Here, he
shows his stubbornness; as he sacked her, it must've been the right
decision. Not only this, but it's showing how he doesn't care about
his workers plight, and those lower down the class system. In the
play, this is an issue with all the higher-class people; how they
think they are always right and can't look beyond what they want to.
In An Inspector Calls, Mr. Birling is a prime example of this
stereotypical character of the time.

In Mr. Birling's big speech before the Inspector arrives, there are
many moral issues raised: First of all, the issue of whether the
marriage is for love, money, respect or business - "Your engagement to
Sheila means a tremendous lot to me…your father and I have been
friendly rivals in business for some time now…and now you've brought
us together." While Mr B does mention that they will make each other
very happy he mentions his business a lot, and this shows how he wants
the wedding for two reasons, as he wants to climb the social ladder to
the top. This is mentioned a number of times at different sections of
the play. Mr B refers to business later on in his speech, with the
prosperity of the country brought up in the speech suggesting the
marriage is for money, and when it turns out Gerald has been keeping a
mistress, he still wants the marriage to go ahead...

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