An Inspector Calls Essay
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An “inspector calls” was written in 1945 (post World War Two), but it was actually set in 1912 (pre World War One). An inspector calls was written by J. B Priestley (John Boynton Priestley). The play is set on a spring evening in the Birling house. The play is about the Birling family (Mr and Mrs Birling and there two children Shelia and Eric) including Gerald croft, Eva Smith/Daisy Renton and the inspector (Inspector Goole). The events of the play start to unfold after the shock announcement by the inspector that a young woman (Eva/Daisy) is dead, the family start to feel that they are some way responsible.
Because of this it cause some of the characters to change there attitudes such as Shelia and Eric. Prior to the arrival of the inspector the attitudes of the Birling family is similar throughout, they are all thinking about the engagement and up and coming wedding. Shelia Birling and her fianci?? Gerald Croft are looking to be come newly weds and embarking on a great new life together. Mr Birling is delighted at the prospect that his daughter is going to marry someone of great promise and a wealthy future for his daughter.
Mrs Birling is like a typical mother her attitude and effort is all going into organising and arranging the wedding, and young Eric Birling’s attitude is simply that of a typical young man, who cannot wait for a party. So as you can see not all there attitudes are exactly the same but they are similar because all there thoughts are taken up by the wedding. The inspector comes in and tells them about how Eva Smith/Daisy Renton died and reveals that each member of the family played a part such as Eva’s troubles started when Mr Birling sacked her from her job at the factory.
She the got a job at a clothes shop but Shelia managed to lose her that job as well so she ended up meeting Gerald croft who took her in but then he dumped her because of the risk of Shelia finding out. She then ended up getting pregnant by Eric Birling who offers her money but she refuses so she goes to she Mrs Birling who is on the council t see if she can have a room or some money but Mrs Birling refuses so eva ends up living on the streets before she if found having ingested thick bleach and later dies in hospital.
The characters all react differently when they hear about there part in Eva’s death Mr Birling reacts as we would expect completely transfers the blame from his unfair dismissal of Eva from her job by saying that she was causing trouble amongst the other workers and that it was completely her fault. Shelia is quite shocked when she hears how her spoilt behaviour and jealousy of Eva in the shop where she was working had been a cause of her death such as Shelia only complained about Eva because she was jealous that Eva looked better in a dress then she did and she is very upset and regrets what she did.
Gerald Croft kind of acts like a hero when he hears about his part because he did take Eva in when she needed it although he refers to her as Daisy Renton, and when its revealed that I the end he kicked her out into the streets he tries to make it out he did it for Shelia and that what he did was right which then causes Shelia’s attitude to become angry and upset.
Eric reaction to the revelation that he had got Eva pregnant was that he did truly like her and want to help her and that he was very upset at the way she was treated especially at his mothers treatment of her but more then anything just like his sister Shelia Eric feels guilty about what happened to Eva.
And finally Mrs Birlings reaction to the revelation she refused to help Eva when she really needed it was very much of well the girl shouldn’t have got her self in that mess in the first place but she soon changed her views when she found out that it was her own grandchild she had condemned to death by not helping Eva smith when she really needed it.
Although Eric was the only person who actually committed a crime by stealing money of his father to give to Eva smith, they all should feel guilty because is there better then everyone else, upper class attitudes that results in Eva’s death even though none of them psychically poured the bleach down her throat. I think that Mrs Birling should fell especially guilty as it was her final actions which resulted in Eva death and also that if she had listened then she might still have a grandchild.
The inspectors final message is “that we are responsible for each other” which is the message of the play and by it he means we are all responsible for our own actions but also our actions can prompt other people to do things, that they might not have done if we hadn’t done what we did. I think that the message was quite effectively put across because it made Shelia and Eric change there attitudes but unfortunately it didn’t particularly have an effect on Gerald and especially not on Mr and Mrs Birling as they are just simply to set in there ways for them to change now.
Even when the inspector warns them of the “fire and blood and anguish” if they don’t pay attention to what he has taught them. Mr Birling still hasn’t learnt his lesson as he is unable to admit responsibility for his part in Eva’s death and like her husband Mrs Birling refuses to believe that she did anything wrong and doesn’t accept responsibility for her part in Eva’s death. Shelia and Eric are both fully aware of there social responsibility. They are not interested in here parents’ efforts to cover everything up: as far as they are concerned, the important thing is that a girl is dead.
And they had something top do with it and that mustn’t happen again. Gerald on the other hand has not changed at all he hasn’t learnt his lesson and that is why Shelia isn’t sure she wishes to marry someone like that who could well turn out like her father refusing to accept when they are wrong. It is very evident that the older generation (Mr and Mrs Birling) aren’t Open to new view that way that the younger generation (Shelia and Eric) are. The effectiveness of the writing in this play is good.
They way that priestly put across his political views and the way that he choose to write the play set in 1912 before World War One even though he actually wrote it in 1945 just after World War Two had ended. I think he choose to do this because he wanted to make light of how back then the classes were so different and the way that people thought them selves so much better then others whereas by 1945 that had mostly changed. Like the way that in 1912 women were subservient to men.
All a well off women like Shelia could do was get married and a poor woman like Eva smith was seen as cheap labour. I also think the way that Priestley writes the inspector is very effective as at the end of the play no one knows where the inspector was real or not. Is the inspector the voice of J. B Priestley? Or maybe the voice of our consciences? I think the way that no one even knows if Eva smith/daisy Renton is the same person or even real is also very effective as if you think about Eva’s name.
Eva is similar to Eve the first woman in the Bible and Smith is the most common English surname So, Eva Smith could represent any woman of the lower or in fact any class. But regardless if either of them was real or not they still had the desired effect of trying to get people to change there attitudes and there views on the lower class which was achieved with Shelia and Eric Birling but unfortunately not with Mr and Mrs Birling.
I still think its an effective way of writing and was perfect for this play, and creating the cliff hanger at the end when everyone is quite confident that the inspector isn’t real and is making it up, then they get the phone call form the local police inspector saying a young girl is dead and that they are going to be interviewed makes you think Was the inspector there moral side/ conscience?