Social Responsibility In J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

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In An Inspector Calls, the central theme is responsibility. Priestley is interested in our personal responsibility for our own actions and our collective responsibility to society. The play explores the effect of class, age and sex on people's attitudes to responsibility, and shows how prejudice can prevent people from acting responsibly. Priestley believed in the idea of the Welfare state, where everyone was supported by each other. He was a supporter of socialism - his play promotes social responsibility and criticises the problems caused by the class divide. The play 'An Inspector Calls' is used by J.B. Priestley as a door to open the minds of his 1945 audiences to the faults that he saw in society; the lack of responsibility people felt towards each other. The play is set in 1912 when a quarter of the globe was coloured red, denoting the vast and powerful empire that was Britain. The upper and middle classes led such a lavish life of luxury that the Edwardian era is now infamous for its elegance, ostentation and extravagance. Men such as Arthur Birling, who is portrayed by Priestley as the stereotypical…show more content…
Priestley was a supporter of socialism and the Inspector promotes Priestley's idea of social responsibility in the play. When talking to Gerald and Sheila about responsibility, the Inspector speaks 'sternly to them both'. The word 'sternly' means uncompromising which suggests that Priestley feels that society needs to confront this issue as it is very serious. We hear the voice of Priestley through the Inspector, 'You see, we have to share something'. Though the Inspector is talking to Sheila and Gerald we can infer that Priestley is addressing the audience directly through the use of the phrase 'You see'. 'We' here, is the audience as well the characters. The collective noun suggests that Priestley believes we should be collectively responsible for our community, 'sharing our
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