Explain the importance of responsibility and community of ‘An inspector calls’ An inspector calls is a morality play. It was written to teach not just the characters but also the audience his views of a socialist which is that `you should look after each other’. Mr. Birling’s view is `look after yourself only’. `An inspector calls’ is based around a dinner party being held at Mr. Birling’s house to celebrate the engagement of Sheila and Gerald Croft. The inspector enters the scene as Mr. Birling is in the middle of a talk he is saying to Eric and Gerald. He was talking about how there wont be a war because there is too much to loose now days and there is a new ship being built called the titanic and how it is `unsinkable’.
The information that Mr. Birling is saying is obviously wrong. We know that there is a war and that the titanic does sink. The inspector enters and asks the whole family questions about a girl called Eva Smith. He only leaves after he has finished asking questions. The family now realise that they all have something to do with this girl Eva Smith and her death. The younger generation decide to accept this, but the older generation, knowing that the inspector wasn’t a real inspector decide to get on with their lives as if nothing has happened.
Mr. Birling begins the play advocating opposing values of the inspector. A quote to back this up is `The way some these cranks talk and write now you’d think that everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive-community and all that nonsense.’ This quote shows that Mr. Birling has no time to look after other people but only himself. As the audience we have found out that Mr. Birling’s judgement is not to be trusted, this allows priestly to encourage us to take the opposite views to him. Mr. Birling has the responsibility as an employer. `It’s my duty to keep labour costs down.’ He has also got the responsibility as a father to recognise the distress of his son. He doesn’t do this.
A quote to support this is, `You’re not the kind of father a chap could go to when he is trouble.’ This was said by Eric when they find out that he was father to Eva’s unborn child. He has a social responsibility with the citizens of the town because he is lord mayor and he is also a member of the bench. During the inspector is asking him questions he has failed to take his responsibilities seriously. This is shown through his actions and attitude. Priestly makes out that Mrs.Birling is an arrogant and heartless person. He has done this by revealing the way she deals with the people around her. She believes she has a social responsibility to uphold morality. Mrs. Birling is a woman who cares more for her status than the people she is meant to be helping.
To increase her prestige she is the chairwoman of a charity committee. This makes her look more powerful. During the play she abuses her power and this leads to her abusing her responsibility. A quote to show this is `she seemed to me to be not a good case-and so I used my influence to have it refused.’ This was when Eva Smith went to the woman’s charity seeking help but Mrs. Birling refused her on the account that se used the name Mrs. Birling and she thought that she was insulting her. After the inspector had asked all of his questions she assumed that she may have had something to do with her death. After she had realized that it wasn’t a real inspector she believed that she had nothing to do with her death.
Eric displays immature behaviour throughout the play for example he secretly drunk without his parents knowing. He is also irresponsible in the way that when he gets money for Eva it is stolen from his father’s office. His acts like this because he is immature and insecure. He was set up by his mother. A quote to show this is, `go and look for the father of the child. It’s his responsibility.’ Eric accepts that he is partially responsible for the death of Eva Smith. A quote to show this is, `you lot may be letting yourselves out nicely, but I can’. He directs this to his parents; they decided not to accept they had anything to do with her death.
Sheila begins the play not knowing that she had been a part of Eva Smiths life. She didn’t know that her actions may have consequences. She is irresponsible in the way that she forced Eva out of her job by abusing her position and responding personally. A quote to show this is, `when I was looking at myself in the mirror I caught a sight of her smiling at the assistant, and I was furious with her.’, `I went to the manager and told him that this girl had been very impertinent.’ She was quick to accept her responsibility for her actions.
Sheila helps the inspector in making her family see what they have done to affect Eva Smiths life. Gerald abuses his position of trust and wealth by making Eva his mistress and by cheating on his fiancï¿½e. But Gerald acts responsible by rescuing, feeding and housing Eva Smith when she was alone. He is also irresponsible in the way that his disregards his fiance and when he breaks up with Eva Smith. Although Gerald was visibly shocked by revelations, he was too keen to believe the matter is a hoax in order to assuage his conscience.
The inspector was used by J. B. Priestly as a means of education and punishment to the characters of the play. He conducts his interrogation to suggest he knows those who will benefit most from this message. Those who decide to resist his ideas are seen to come off worst. And example of this is Mrs. Birling who starts talking about the father of the child who is most responsible not knowing thatit was Eric. Sheila insists for her to stop but she doesn’t. A quote to show this is, `I blame the younger man who was father of the child she was going to have. If, as she said, he didn’t belong to her class, and was some drunken young idler, then all the more reason why he shouldn’t escape. He should be made an example of.
If the girl’s death is due to anyone, then it’s due to him.’ His final speech about Eva Smith was not only aimed at the characters but also the audience. His intentions are to make us all identify and think of the possible consequences of out actions. Priestly establishes clear character types so we know who to trust before the inspector arrives. We know not to trust Mr. Birling’s judgement. He uses the inspector as an instrument to uncover the family’s involvement and expose their guilt.