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    The Theme of Social Responsibility in An Inspector Calls

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    An Inspector Calls is a play that examines how rich Edwardians were seen to be irresponsible. It does this by showing us different views and actions of a family called the Birlings. When a girl called Eva Smith dies and everybody has a part in the killing. The characters are used to show how we can all be irresponsible Eva smith was a girl who was a victim. She was a victim because she killed herself because of the desperate situations she found herself in. Everybody did something very bad to Eva and this forced her to drink disinfectant. I am going to analyze how Priestly presents rich Edwardian families and how they treated people who had no power.

    From the beginning of the play Arthur Birling is presented as a selfish, arrogant person this is because Mr. Birling is expecting Gerald Croft to combine businesses. This character also shows that he only cares about himself when he says that: “you’d think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive – community and that all that nonsense. But take my word for it, you youngsters – and I’ve learned in the good hard school of experience – that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own” The sentence above tells that Arthur Birling is a very ambitious and competitive man, it also suggests helping others may slow your process to achieve your aims, which is not what he expects from a good society.

    The reader becomes more aware of how ignorant these Edwardians were when Birling says “unsinkable”. Initially, Sheila appears to be a jealous, self-centered person. Her decision to blackmail the manager saying she will persuade her mother to close her account, if the girl is not sacked demonstrated how self-obsessed she is. This can be seen through the lines “she was a very pretty girl too” this shows to us that rich Edwardians took advantage of their power. It also shows to us that rich Edwardians took advantage of their power. It also shows how irresponsible they were when they made decisions.

    However Sheila displays her compassionate side, in the beginning, Sheila appeared as an uncaring person but eventually, she showed us her true side. The quote “don’t please … I know, I know … I can’t stop thinking about it” indicates the guilt that she is feeling for Eva’s death. Priestly is showing us the importance of change and how we can all be more irresponsible. Gerald’s croft actions gave him away when the inspector mentions the name Eva was known by after being sacked. Gerald acts surprised, furthermore, Sheila notices his discomfort when hearing her name and questions him when the inspector leaves. Sheila helps the inspector in finding out about Gerald’s affair with Eva. She questions Gerald however the reader is left confused as to whether this is due to a need to know details or a need to find others guilty and relieve her own conscience.

    On the other hand Gerald Croft is a presented selfish man who thinks about himself. This can be seen in the line “so that I could make love to her”. This gives us the impression that he was just using her, he is lying to the family that he wanted to help but he was really thinking about himself. The playwright is showing us how responsibility is important in relationships.

    “You don’t know, don’t you” which quickly makes the reader desperate to see the reaction of the rest of the family towards Eric. At this point Eric is very miserable this is seen from the stage directions “bitterly”. Sheila who Eric normally gets on with has finally got to him and he gets angry at her when he says “you told her. Why you little sneak” i think the fact that Eric has been discovered as the father of Eva Smiths child, has changed the readers opinion of Eric because in the readers eyes he is no longer the humorous and mischievous young person, but instead he is irresponsible.

    Although Eric seems to be a nasty person at first, when he tells the story of what happened when he met Eva smith he becomes a more likable person. This is very unfortunate to Eric because he had a lot to drink and he didn’t want to hurt Eva or cause what happened to her. I can tell this because he gave her around fifty pounds although it was stolen from his father’s office, he had risked getting into trouble.

    One of the last characters the inspector talks to is Mrs. Birling. He shows her the photo and she pretends not to recognize her. The inspector knows she is lying and continues with his questions. Sheila again helps the inspector with the search for the truth by reminding her mother of what happened to Eva and the trauma she had experienced. She also tells her she is making it worse by not telling the Inspector the truth. Mrs. Birling eventually confesses and tells the inspector how she denied Eva help when she came to her charity organization for women.

    In conclusion, the inspector’s attitude towards the Birling family did not after following their confessions. He always acted professionally but there was no doubt that he wanted to highlight their guilt. After each character admits to their involvement the inspector summarizes the events, their guilt and reminding the reader of their wrongdoing. Before the inspector leaves the Birling house, he delivers a compelling speech designed to teach the Birlings to accept their involvement in the death of Eva.

    The inspector is a device used by the playwright to help people know how rich Edwardians were like. He wanted them to realise the consequences of their actions and help people who need it, whoever they are or whatever they have done. The inspector takes control of the situation prior to his speech. He tells them all to ‘stop!’ immediately capturing their attention and making sure they realize the seriousness of the situation. This would have been said in a controlling precise voice. The inspector begins by starting that Eva died.

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    The Theme of Social Responsibility in An Inspector Calls. (2017, Nov 10). Retrieved from

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