The play “An Inspector Calls” was written by J. B. Priestley in 1945 just after the Second World War. J. B. Priestley was in 1894 in Bradford. His mother died in that that same year and his father remarried four years later. J. B. Priestley left school at sixteen and became a junior clerk at a wool-making firm. The play is set in 1912 just before the outbreak of the First World War. The location for the play is the house of a rich high middle class family. The play starts with the family celebrating the engagement of Sheila who is the Arthur’s daughter to Gerald Croft who is the son of a rich businessman.Order now
Later in the play the mood turns sour when an Inspectors calls to investigate the death of Eva Smith and tells them they all are to blame for her death. During the era of the play, workers in factories and workers had almost no rights. The employers had full control of the workers but this began to change during this era. The rights of the employees began to change because the government started to concern themselves with the workers and the lower classes. They introduced measured to help the poor including giving free school dinners, old age pension and national insurance.
Even though this did help there was still a large gulf of wealth between the middle and higher class and the working class and it was very difficult to move up a class. At around 1910-1912 the top 1% of the population owned around 67% of the nations wealth. Another big difference was that in rich areas people could expect to live to they were fifty years old where as people who lived in poor areas lived on average only to twenty-six years old. The character to be interviewed first was Arthur Birling.
Arthur is the owner of a works that employs many lower class workers and once employed Eva Smith but she was sacked after leading a uprising at the works for better pay and conditions. Arthur is in the upper-middle class but hopes to move up a class by receiving a knighthood on the next honours list. Arthur is a stereotypical male of his class. He is a pompous and overpowering person. He believes a person should look after himself and family and nothing else. “a man has got to make his own way” is a comment he made to his son Eric which shows his attitude to the poor.
He also says many things to show that he has a superior social status. “I’m good friends with colonel Roberts”. He also shows he attitude to the working class by saying “she’d had a lot to say-far too much” when talking about the protest at the works. Arthur’s attitude to the poor is one of that they should been seen but not heard and put up with what they are given this was shown when he refused to increase wages Sheila Birling is the daughter of Arthur Birling. She does not have a good relationship with her parents.
She is very arrogant and rude towards to the lower class. She is a typical middle class man’s daughter. She like her father has no respect for the lower class, which she shows when gets Eva Smith sacked. Sheila got sacked Eva from the clothes store after Eva looked better in a dress than Sheila. She also shows she is able to use her superior social class and wealth when almost blackmailing the clothes shop Eva worked at. Sheila did this by saying she would never shop at that shop again if they did not sack Eva.
This shows a complete lack of respect for the lower class. This also shows that Sheila is a very jealous woman and cannot stand to see a lower class woman looking better than her. There is hope though for future generations because at the end of the play she is very remorseful. “I behaved badly too, I know I did. I’m ashamed of it. ” Gerald Croft is the son of a high-class business who owns a rival factory to Arthur Birling’s works. Gerald’s attitude to life is very laid back and relaxed. He like his future father in-law treats the lower class with almost no respect.
He shows this when he has a sexual relationship with Eva Smith and then leaves her when it pleases him. Gerald was engaged to Sheila at the same time as seeing Eva but the engagement was cancelled when the Inspector revealed the affair. This also shows he disrespects woman because he does not care that his affair will hurt both Sheila and Eva. Sybil Birling is the wife of Arthur. She was born into a high-class family but when she married Arthur she drooped a class. Sybil gives an impression of a very cold woman with no heart.
When she learned of the death of Eva Smith she felt no remorse even though she played a part in the death of Eva Smith. She shows a very poor relationship with her children “I must say were are learning something tonight. ” She says that when she learns of Eric’s drink problem. She like all the other character has a poor attitude to the lower classes. He part in the death of Eva Smith was turning her down for charity because Eva used the name Birling because she did not want to use her real name. Sybil thought this was a great disrespected and turned her down.
Eric Birling is the son of Arthur Birling. Eric attitude to life is very laid back. He is very immature for his age. “I suddenly felt I just had to laugh” He shows his attitude to the poor when he forced into Eva’s house and then we are led to believe he raped. This shows complete lack of respect for the lower class and women. It shows that Eric believes that just because Eva is of lower class that it is ok to do anything to them. If he did rape her that was the worst act committed by any of the characters.
He also later got her pregnant and did not want to have anything to do with the baby. He probably did not want to see the baby because it would bring shame to the family. Again like his sister he did show some respect by giving Eva money. Inspector Goole is a very mysterious character. His name is very similar to the word ghoul, which might mean he is a ghost. Another reason why he might be a ghost is that seems to know everything about all the characters. He is clearly a well-educated man and treats the higher class with no more respect than he does the lower classes.
The plat ” An Inspector Calls” shows the social attitudes towards the lower classes from the higher classes. The general attitude towards the lower class at the time of the play is poor and this repented by the main characters treating them badly, not letting them stand up for their rights, taking advantage of them and raping Eva. They did this because they thought because they were of a higher class they should treat them as they wished. In the play the treatment of Eva was noticed and the culprits were punished but it reality this would never of happened.