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The Inspector Calls Essay Sample

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The Inspector Calls Essay Sample

Arthur Birling says: “If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had had anything to do with, it would be very awkward wouldn’t it?” Considering Act 1 of the play, how does Priestly present ideas about responsibility in An Inspector Calls?

The Inspector and Mr Birling are the main characters J.B. Priestly uses as his tools to portray responsibility.

Firstly, Mr Birling acts as a contradictor to Priestley’s beliefs and messages. For example in one of Mr Birling’s long speeches he quotes “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own”. This is the opposite of Priestley’s main messages, of Responsibility, Community and the Individual as Priestley tries to portray to his audience the importance of personal responsibility, and the effects of our actions to others, in addition that we should look after everyone in the community, not just ourselves, as it is our responsibly. Mr Birling has the constant use of first person personal pronoun (I) and possessive pronouns (my) adding to the selfishness and egotistical Mr Birling. Priestly also shows an opposing view to capitalism through Mr Birling as he is blinded in the view of current events and society.

In another one of Mr Birling’s long speeches with high lexical density, where he can take dominance and rule the evening, he quotes that “there isn’t a chance of war…the Titanic – she sails next week…unsinkable”. Priestley purposely uses dramatic irony here to show that even though Mr Birling has money and can be powerful, he is a fool as the audience would have lived through these events and seen the consequences, one of Priestley’s messages, how the effects of our actions act upon others and that history is important as it can repeat itself which affects the future. He also quotes “It’s a free country I told them” exemplifying the irony again as in 1912 everyone was restricted by society and the class system. In addition we learn that we cannot trust Birling as he does not take responsibility for his actions, and everything has a consequences making him a fool as Birling voices opinions Priestly disagrees with.

The Inspector on the other hand acts as a mouthpiece to Priestley’s beliefs in a way that he contradicts Mr Birling for the better. The Inspector is a symbolic figure as he isn’t your normal inspector, firstly because the name “Goole” makes you think of ghoul, something supernatural, in addition the mysterious coming and going as well as his knowledge of Gerald’s affair believes us to think he is something ‘not of this world’. IN conclusion the Inspector is a multi-faceted and multi-functional character in the way he acts with different characters to gain the truth from them, for example with Mr Birling he is very to the point, “no” showing that small words can create a huge impact and a big response, as with Shiela he acts more gentle as there is no power struggle, for example “yes, I’m afraid it did”. The Inspector goes on to quotes “But after all it’s better to ask for the Earth, than to take it”.

This exemplifies that Priestly opposes socialist and capitalist views as they ruin society and divide us, so we cannot be a proper community, also looking at the Inspector, he is very assertive and uses declarative statements to portray Priestley’s messages to the audience by using no extra words and being honest, again one of Priestley’s messages, as we see through Sheila and Gerald later on that being honest gets you further in life than lying. Responsibility is hugely important to the Inspector as he portrays that the reason for Eva Smiths death is because of the Birling family and Gerald. With each member he tries to make them take responsibility for their actions, portraying one of Priestley’s main messages. For example “so you used your power…to punish the girl”, here the Inspector is wanting to make Sheila see the consequences of her actions and now to take responsibility for that as it was her own fault.

Sheila does take the responsibility and changes her ways for the better, as she has lessons and messages of the Inspector, like the audience does and that was what Priestly wanted us to do. In conclusion, Priestly uses the two main influential characters to portray what he believes and what he doesn’t. Through these characters he exemplifies his themes and messages that we should learn from and then improve others and ourselves from them to make a better society and community. Priestley believed taking personal responsibility and caring for others are the main aspects of a good society and that socialism and capitalism aren’t what make this happen as they are corruptive and cannot take responsibility for their actions.

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