Before World Wars 1,2 there was no NHS or social security, society’s views on responsibility and rights were very different. The upper and middle classes, who had all the power, thought that everyman had to look after himself and maybe his family and no one else: `A man has to make his own way, has to look after his family. ` Arthur Birling J.B. Priestly wrote this play to show people that they should take responsibility for others. The storyline is that a girl called Eva Smith, died on her way to the infirmary after swallowing a lethal dose of disinfectant. An inspector Goole calls at the Birling house in which everyone unknowingly had made a contribution to her death.Order now
The audience in 1945, for which the play was written, probably despised Arthur Birling because most of them would have lost family members or close friends either in the first or second world wars or in the titanic disaster: `You will hear some people say war is inevitable, I say to that- fiddlesticks, ` and he also goes on to say: `Titanic, unsinkable! ` Priestly is trying to get over the point that the upper classes were very ignorant and smarmy and they live in their own perfect world. The actual audience were the upper class or survivors from the World Wars.
It is clear that inspector Goole is not actually a police inspector because of his actions; he suddenly appeared at the living room door without warning or an introduction, and when he knows Eric has come back, without hearing a sound. Also he said he wanted to ask the Birling family some questions but he clearly already knew the answers. Anther weird thing was that he was dressed in 1940`s clothing when the play was set in the 1910`s. the most obvious `odd` thing was when he suddenly disappeared at the end of the play. There are many theories as to who the `inspector` really was, some say he was a time traveller because in the film version he was always looking at his watch, some people think he was Eva’s unborn child, and some even thought he was Priestly himself as the inspector shares Priestly `s morals and values.
The older members of the Birling family do not have a good reaction to the inspector, they do not want to tell him anything because they know that it would damage their `reputations`. Gerald did nothing morally wrong in the beginning, he did take in a prostitute from the streets and in the end cheated on his fiancï¿½. Mr. Birling admitted his part in Eva’s suicide but would not claim responsibility for it. Mrs. Birling is the most resilient and will not admit to her part almost until the end of the play but will not admit fault. When they realise that the inspector is not real they are overjoyed because they realise no one will find out about their scandal, then they go back to their same views about society and carry one as if nothing has happened. I think Priestly is trying to say that some people will never change especially the older generation.
On the other hand the `inspector` had a positive effect on Eric and Sheila because they not only open up to him but when they find out that the `inspector` wasn’t real their views on society had already changed and they try to start their lives again. Overall the naturalistic film and the symbolic play have very different ways of getting the message over like; in the play while the `inspector` questions the family, the house slowly opens up which symbolises the family opening up to the `inspector`, whereas the film is more spooky and concentrates more on the `inspector`, than the Birling family. I think that the naturalistic film gave the message across better than the play because the play was unclear in parts and there was too much going on at the same time to notice everything. I think that the message that the play carries would not be as effective know as it was when it was first written but there is still some significance to it.