Essay on An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls

How does Priestley use the character of the Inspector to convey his own opinions and attitudes?

An Inspector Calls, set in 1912, is a play with many social and political messages. J. B. Priestley believed a great deal in socialism and believed that many other people needed to be more caring about their community and the people in it. Priestley uses the character of the Inspector to convey his own thoughts, feelings and opinions about social issues. However, he also uses other characters, particularly Mr.Birling, to show the audience how cynical some people can be.

It is possible that J.B.Priestley set this play in 1912 for a reason. Arthur Birling is a rich businessman who thinks very highly of himself, even
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This tactic could have been to ensure that his viewers continued to think about the story and hence would also have to think about the issues of Socialism and this is something which he was desperate to do.

The Inspector’s aim in the play is to change thoughts and opinions of the Birling family and the audience viewing. One of the ways he attempts to do this is by questioning each one of the Birling’s in turn. The Inspector firsts interrogates Mr.Birling, asking him why he dismissed Eva Smith from her job at his factory, just for asking for more money.

Birling was 'surprised' at being questioned, so it seems that what he says is usually accepted as correct. His surprise could also be because of exactly what the Inspector was questioning. Birling says that it is his 'duty to keep labour costs down' which indicates that he does not think of each worker as a person and cares a great deal about money. The fact that he did not recognise the name Eva Smith even though she was someone he dealt with directly and a worker who stood out, further shows that he does not think of his employees as people. To him they are nameless and have no individuality.
Priestley has done this to make audience members realize that even if a person has a very minor job, or is poorer than most, they still deserve to be treated with respect.

The Inspector recognises early on that Sheila
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