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The Death Of Eva Smith In An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

5360 words - 21 pages

The Death of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

Inspector Calls is set in the fictitious North Midlands industrial
city of Brumley during the Edwardian Era in 1912. Arthur Birling and
his wife, Sybil, are holding a dinner party to celebrate their
daughter's engagement. Among the guests is Gerald Croft, the
daughter's fiancé. Gerald is the son of a business rival, Sir George
Croft, and Mr. Birling is extremely pleased with the match partly due
to the closer business links he hopes to develop with Gerald's father.
The play centres on the arrival of a Police Inspector, who says he is
investigating the suicide of a young working class woman. As the play
progresses, we learn how each member of the family was involved with
the woman, and how they all contributed to her apparent suicide.

The Edwardian Era was a period of huge social divisions and
distinctions. Characters such as Mr and Mrs Birling were very common.
While they lived in luxury, over eight million people had to live on
less that 25 shillings a week and as a result were in poverty. The
working classes had virtually no rights and were separated into the
"deserving" and "un-deserving" classes. J.B. Priestly was writing in
1946 at a time of great optimism, following the downfall of the Nazi
Regime, and was trying to convey a message of responsibility
throughout the play. Responsibility is one of the main themes of the
play and J.B. Priestly was very politically minded. He was appalled
and disgusted by the way the rich didn't seem to have any empathy for
the poor in pre 1914 Britain. I think the play is inspired by the
social situation of 1912 and is almost a historian's view of the
Edwardian Era. J.B Priestly was a political and social thinker and
this shows in a lot of the 40 plays he wrote. He favoured the themes
of fate, responsibility and personal choice in a lot of his plays but
also used themes such as lies and love. He was a patriotic socialist
but also was passionately convinced of the need of social change to
benefit the poor. To this end he wrote An Inspector Calls which he saw
as a contribution to public understanding of social responsibility.

The first character that the Inspector tackles is Mr. Birling. He is a
successful factory-owner, a local magistrate and Ex-Lord Mayor of
Brumley. He is rather provincial in his speech but tries to appear
more upper class. He regards himself as a reasonable man but has
little or no imagination. He seems blind both to the consequences of
his and others actions. He makes predictions about the future - the
unsinkability of the Titanic, "the titanic-she sails next
week…unsinkable…" the impossibility of Germany declaring war. This is
ironic because the audience knows that Germany declared war, and that
the Titanic sunk that very same year in 1912. Money or...

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