The following sample essay on Inspector Calls Essay discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Priestley conveys this message through a story of a girl who was driven to suicide by members of one family. All were unaware of the fact they all knew her. The play was written in 1946, but set in 1912. This relates to the message because its audience will know from the wars that people can affect the lives of others e.
g. Hitler and Stalin. Arthur Birling is portrayed as a pompous know-it-all whom you immediately dislike. He believes that society and the community is as it should be. The rich stay rich, the poor stay poor and there is a large gap between the two.
He is a man who has worked his way up to the position he is in without inheritance, he believes that “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own”.
Throughout the play, however, we see that Priestley’s views do not concur with Birling’s and he has added statements to make the audience see Birling’s views as false. Birling’s confidence in the predictions he makes, such as the Titanic being unsinkable, and war being impossible, give the audience the impression that his views of community are also misguided.
Every one of the predictions Birling makes is wrong; the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, World War One broke out two years after the play was set and the American Stock Market crashed in 1929.
This leads us to regard him as a man of many words but little sense! Mr Birling’s behaviour towards the Inspector is very discourteous. He is filled with disgust at how he came into his home, accusing him and his family of a tragedy. He does not care whether the Inspector is doing his job or not. He is also very insolent and doesn’t have much respect for others.
He is more interested in his own well being. This shows when he finds out that Eric (Mr Birling’s son) stole money from the factory. He wasn’t interested in Eric’s reasons for taking the money, but simply when he would get it back. At the end of Act Three, Birling seems not to have taken any of the lessons of the evening to heart. The demise of Eva Smith and the role each member of his family played in her death have not shaken his beliefs.
He continues to believe that there was every excuse for what he and his wife did. In fact, he is more concerned with his own reputation than with Eva. … who here will suffer more than I will? ” He says things that should have been said to him, “you don’t realise yet all you’ve done… you don’t seem to care about anything”, yet when he says these things, he is of course talking not about Eva Smith, but about his own reputation and an upcoming public scandal. The attitude of Mr Birling, and his willingness to explain away the events of the evening to hoaxes and artfully crafted deception, all go towards the final twist in the plot – the Inspector returning to teach the Birlings their lesson again.
This ties in with the idea that if you don’t learn the lesson the first time, you will be taught it again, through “fire and blood and anguish”. Eva Smiths story carries Priestley’s view throughout the play. Due to the selfish actions of others she suffers a chain of bad luck leading to her premature death. First she asks for a rise from Mr Birling. He refuses and fires her. Next, while working in a clothes shop, Sheila (Mr Birling’s daughter) requests for Eva to be fired. Then, while being harassed at a bar, Gerald (Sheila’s fianci? ) comes to rescue her, gives her a place to stay and supplies her with money.
When he finally sent her back to the streets, she met Eric at the Palace Bar. They made love a few times and he gave her 50 pounds, which he stole from the factory. When she found out she was pregnant Eric got rid of her. Finally, she went to a charitable organisation which Mrs Birling was head of. She was refused help for a number of reasons and left with nowhere else to go. When told what they had done, each of the characters responded in different ways. Mr and Mrs Birling responded with disbelief and refused to admit they had done anything wrong.
Eric was ashamed at what he had done. Gerald was also ashamed but extremely apologetic to Sheila, and Sheila was deeply regretful and was ashamed of her parent’s attitudes towards the ordeal. Inspector Goole is used as a way to communicate Priestley’s views – he acts as a social conscience of sorts. He is the voice of Priestley in the play, or the voice of Priestley’s socialist views. “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. ” He believes in responsibility for and towards everyone.
Mr Birling comments on the Inspectors behaviour by saying “… you weren’t asked here to talk to me about my responsibilities. ” Contrary to what Arthur Birling believes, it seems that the Inspector was sent to the Birlings to teach them some responsibility. The character of Inspector Goole is mysterious. This air of mystery is intentional. The name Inspector Goole is an obvious pun (Inspector – spectre, Goole – ghoul). We as an audience never find out who this Inspector is. He could be anybody or anything. Priestley left the character as a mystery so as to have a larger impact.
Through the Inspector, the audience is educated in social understanding and behaviour, seeing the examples of the Birlings and hearing Inspector Goole’s prediction. Sheila also contributes to our response to the Inspector because she is young and impressionable, when the Inspector puts forward a view on society she agrees with him. This shows that he has great power and influence. The ending symbolises the warning that the Inspector gave the Birlings. “If you do not learn your lesson the first time, you will be taught it again in fire and anguish.
Priestley uses the dramatic twist of the Inspector returning at the end of the play, to emphasise this point, he makes it more effective by placing it just as the characters are beginning to relax, believing it was all a hoax. It serves to prick the consciences of both the characters and the audience. I believe the aim of Priestley when he wrote this play, was to make us think about our beliefs. He wanted to give us a sense of responsibility and make a difference in the world. He did this with a set of characters that everyone would be able to relate to.