‘An Inspector Calls’ has been called ‘a play of contrasts’. Write about how Priestley presents some of the contrasts in the play. In the play there are wide differences in not only the treatment of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith but also large contrasts in the girls themselves- with Eva being a poor uncared for girl and Sheila being a privileged upper-middle class girl. This not only separates them as they would be unable to fully empathise with each other as they experience widely contrasting lives. This is shown as Mr Birling says “but I see no point in mentioning the subject – especially -(indicating Sheila.)” The quote paired with the stage direction highlights Mr Birling’s attempts to prevent Sheila from being exposed to the situation. This is done as they feel that Sheila should be protected from merely hearing the awful situations that some girls have to endure. This concern is in contrast with how they view Eva Smith as both parents have minimal concern for the fact that they are partly responsible for Eva having to live on the streets.
‘There’s nothing I can tell him. I told the girl to clear out, and she went.’ The use of ‘nothing’ indicates how Mr Birling views the situation of Eva, as if it was ‘nothing’ that he was at fault for Eva being on the streets and out of a job- a contrast to the sheltered life he creates for Sheila. At both ends of the play there is contrast in the language used by Inspector and Birling in their speeches. The early speech by Mr Birling is one with a much happier and self-supporting view of society compared to the later one by the Inspector which holds a tone of finality and encompasses the idea of being responsible for everyone around you.
Both speeches talk of the responsibility we have however; where the Inspector talks of responsibility for all- ‘We don’t live alone.’ Mr Birling means to say that we are responsible for ourselves and no more- ‘. We employers at last are coming together to see that our interests’ These speeches indicate the attitudes held by the speaker clearly, with Mr Birling showing concern for ‘we employers’ highlights the socialist view held by Mr Birling as he views they employers as one while entity that need to protect and look after each other with minimal concern for the rest of society.