Education Essay

296 WordsDec 16, 20132 Pages
Analyse the Themes Explored by Priestley in An Inspector Calls and Consider the Reasons Why Setting the Play in 1912 was Relevant Social responsibility and class are two of the most prominent themes in J.B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. These themes are explored by Priestley’s decision to set the play in a 1912 upper middle-class family’s home. Britain was, in 1912, about to experience the upheaval of war, which would radically alter the social and political landscape; writing in 1945, with the benefit of historical hindsight, Priestley was able to satirize and ridicule the contempt that the Birling’s, and others like them, have towards their community. This essay will seek to examine the messages Priestley puts forward in An Inspector Calls about the role the well-off should play in providing social assistance to those less fortunate than themselves; it will seek to accomplish this by paying particular attention to scrutinising why Priestley made the decision to set his play at a time when the concept of social responsibility was, particularly by the upper classes, cast aside as an inconvenience. The play is essentially a morality tale; each member of the upper middle-class Birling family comes to realise that they are collectively responsible for the suicide of a young girl, after being visited by a mysterious inspector who informs them of the girl’s suicide. However some members of the family, particularly Gerald and Mr and Mrs Birling, remain intransigent and refuse to accept their responsibility; other family members however, notably Eric and Sheila, are more willing to accept their role in the girl’s death and opt to change their ways, indicating that some people from a higher social position were susceptible to embracing change in welfare provision for the poorest in

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