Inspector Calls, GCSE English language
In this essay I will address how this book, Inspector calls, I will address how J.B Priestly describes the younger generation compared to the older generation. I will also consider the reason why J.B Priestly decides to display generations in such a manner.
Inspector calls is a book which revolves around an event which occurs in the life of a “prosperous” family. The play was created towards the end of World War 2 and is centered on a rich family called the Birlings. The Birlings are immediately portrayed to the audience as a rich family. The opening sentence has the following words, “large suburban house.” These words have connotations such as rich, happy etc. These connotations combined give the audience a feeling that this family is rich.
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Against the run of flow, Priestly uses diction to suggest that the Birlings are not at the top of the social class. By using diction such as “not cosy” and “fairly large,” Priestly manages to portray this family as prosperous. Prosperous gives connotations of being moderately rich. What’s more is he even describes the owner of the house as a “prosperous manufacturer.” This play is written to teach a message. The Birlings are supposed to represent a link between the rich and the poor. The effect of this is this play appeals directly to both social classes.
During the commencing scenes it becomes apparent the Birlings are celebrating the soon to be marriage between Gerald and Sheila. This is made evident when Mrs. Birling says “when you married.” This gives the impression to the audience that this family is at a ecstatic point because a sibling is getting married. This helps create a sudden metamorphosis in terms of atmosphere in the next scenes.
Eric a younger member of the family is visited by an inspector. The inspector is already aware of the act which Eric has committed. This act is, “slept with her.” Later on Eric claims “she was going to have a baby.” To support her Eric gave her money, “until she refused to take any more.” To summarize Eric had a sexual relationship with a woman and left her to live life with nothing but his green paper.
Now the paramount concept, what is Eric’s reaction? Eric’s reaction is straightforward. He accepts the blame and understands precisely what his actions have led to. “No Sheila’s right.” Sheila was describing how the only thing that matters is we comprehend our actions. By agreeing Eric has fundamentally made himself guilty to the ‘crime’ commited.
Moving on to Sheila, Sheila also has a part to play in the demise of this woman. Sheila removed the woman from her job, “don’t get rid of that girl, I’d never go to that place again.” Sheila blackmailed the bank manager which resulted in the woman loosing her job.
Sheila like Eric accepts full responsibility of what she’s done, she’s in an excruciatingly anguish state. “Now I feel a lot worse,” this quote shows Sheila feels extremely sorrowful and is disgraced at her actions.
Towards the end both Sheila and Eric find themselves arguing alongside each other. Both have similar feelings, both feel that this family each has one dirty blood finger of a hangman. All five of the families dirty fingers combined creates a filthy hangman’s hand which combined killed this woman. Eric says “the woman’s dead and we all helped kill her.” Sheila also agrees with Eric, both Sheila and Eric are ashamed of the acts they’ve committed however they bear full responsibility for their own individual actions. However both Arthur and Mrs. Birling beg to differ.
Arthur Birling is the dominant personal of the house. He seems to live on his respect and status. During the beginning scenes of the play we view Arthur Birling as someone full of wisdom and experience. The audience gets this feeling from the diction used in his abnormally long speeches, “Eric, when you have a daughter of your own you’ll realize why.” These words are full of teachings which have originated from experience.
Arthur Birling is the man who starts of this chain of events. By sacking her from her job one thing led to another which ultimately resulted in her downfall. However, Arthur Birling feels “I can take no responsibility.” He himself believes he had no intention in her dying he simply felt she wasn’t the right candidate for her post. He felt this due to her asking for a raise.
As the play progresses we exhibit a change in Arthur Birling. At the beginning of the play Arthur Birling appears to be someone full of experience and wisdom. Towards the middle of the book we learn about how respect fuels his life. “Press might easily take it up,” this quote portrays his love for respect. He has learned how his family has contributed to a woman’s death yet he’s only worried about his respect.
Slightly further on we see a slight metamorphosis in the character of Arthur Birling. He now appears to have grown a conscience. “I’d give thousands,” this quote shows signs of resentment. Arthur Birling appears to be pleading to the inspector he’s sorry. However in the next page we learn it’s all a cover up. “There’ll be a public scandal,” this quote shows just how deceitful Arthur Birling is, he degrades himself in the previous page just to protect his respect.
Arthur Birling even reduces himself to making uncorroborated facts. He exclaims, “Coming here and hoaxing us,” this quote shows Arthur Birling is using every inch of his brain to form a practical excuse.
Finally right at the end we see Arthur Birling astonished. We witness Arthur Birling receive a phone call explaining about a woman has just died. Priestly uses plenty of hyphens in his final speech to show he’s speechless.
Finally the last culprit, Mrs. Birling, she had declined this woman from seeking help from her organization. Mrs. Birling claims she “didn’t like her manner.” This was enough for her to use her “influence to get her declined.”
Mrs. Birling, just liker her husband insists she’s innocent. She says, “I’ve done nothing wrong.” This quote shows just how persistent and arrogant she is about herself being correct. Towards the latter stages she keeps this arrogant feeling about her. “If that had been a police inspector,” from this quote we learn that Mrs. Birling has followed the principles inscribed by Mr. Birling. These principles being, if you can’t win an argument, make it up. Mrs. Birling in this quote is agreeing with the baseless accusation, at the time, that the inspector is a hoax.
Priestly himself had endured both World War 1 and 2. He himself had witnessed life before World War 1 and 2. During this period the world was in essence run by a class system. During World War 2, the whole of Britain combined to work as a group to defeat the opposition. This laid a perfect foundation for a utopian society, a society where a class system would be considered preposterous.
Taking this into account, it’s no surprise the main theme in this play is responsibility. Responsibility is a very vague word; there are different meanings which can be interpreted by this term. Responsibility towards yourself, towards your family, in this case Priestley intentionally talks about social responsibility.
Social responsibility is fundamentally the central theme of this play. Social responsibility is all over this book, one deliberate effect used in both this essay and the book is the name of the woman who dies. Throughout the book she’s come across as numerous names, from “Mrs. Birling” to “Daisy Renton” to “Eva Smith.” In this play to possess the name Mrs. Birling gives connotations of being a rich woman. Priestly therefore creates a devastating effect on the audience. The effect is regardless of the name of this woman, she ended up dead.
Another method through which J.B Priestly demonstrates his fight in the favor of social equilibrium is the diction used throughout the play. The inspector who in the end has the laugh, who wins the arguments, is generally portrayed as the superior one. Despite being the smarter one, the inspector uses simple diction such as, “slammed.” This gives the impression to the audience that a lower class person can outsmart a higher class person; this once again links with social equilibrium.
As explored earlier, the reactions towards the death of Eva Smith differ between the older generations and the newer generations. The older generations tend to feel greedy. They don’t appear to sympathize; instead they attempt to cover up the situation. As proven earlier both Mr. and Mrs. Birling attempt to cover up the story claiming it was a hoax.
Contrastingly the newer generation is portrayed as a binary opposition. Both Eric and Sheila have tremendous sympathy towards the death of Eva Smith. As proven above they’re both heavily affected from the eventual outcome of her life.
The binary opposition is crystal clear. The effect of this binary opposition by Priestly is he convinces us to achieve social equilibrium. The old generation has caused multiple devastating wars; he’s saying look up, its time for a change. His hope for a utopian world lies in the newer generation. A world which cares for each other, he’s hinting to the audience that’s the pathway for an ideal future.
Through the use of the character the inspector, JB Priestly manages to help convince us furthermore this is the best path. The inspector in this play is considered to be an epitome of what humans should be; an apotheosis of man. Referring to young people he calls them “impressionable.” By saying this J.B Priestly once again sends a message to the audience. J.B Priestly is principally directly saying to the audience, teach your children to follow your sinister path, or influence them in a manner to lay down an ideal foundation for a utopian future.
In conclusion this play sends out a powerful message to the audience, in particular young people and those who have influence on these people. J.B Priestly acknowledged that the unity shown during World War 2 could help build a foundation for a new fairer Britain. A future world when people care about each other which would profoundly lead to a better world.
J.B Priestly has intentionally set this play during World War 1. He’s fundamentally saying, after World War 2 we didn’t make necessary changes, it ended in another gruesome war. He’s appealing to the audience it’s time to change the world, to keep it in peace.
J.B Priestly believes in order to create such a world the class system needs to be abolished. He believes the world should run through socialism rather than capitalism. Fundamentally in this play both generations are portrayed differently to show a change is required in the world. A change is needed to make the world a better place.