An Inspector Calls

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‘We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’ How does the play present the need to take that advice?

The play presents the need to act responsible to one another. This is shown through language, the roles of the characters and the actions they make. This is what helps put the message across. The Inspector gives this advice to the Birling’s towards the end of the play for his final speech. The first character who Priestley expresses this advice through, is, Arthur Birling. We learn that Mr Birling started the whole chain of events in Eva Smith’s life. He had sacked Eva for being one of the ‘four or five ring-leaders’ in the strike. For this reason, he sacked her, but also because ‘she’d had a lot to say’. Instead, to justify himself, he says, ‘I only did what an employer might have done’. Arthur shows that he is more concerned about his business than the workers, ‘it’s my duty to keep labour costs down’. Even after admitting this, Birling felt no guilt for her. He was not even the slightest bit sympathetic for her when he heard that Eva had drunk disinfectant, ‘yes, yes. Horrid business’. Arthur is one of the characters in the play who does not accept his own responsibility and their part in Eva’s death. Evidence of this is shown mostly in the third act of the play, when he is mainly concerned about how the media will portray this news, ‘There’ll be a public scandal’. The advice given, is shown through Arthur because, he does not accept his responsibility. At the end of the play, Arthur had thought nobody would find out, until the final phone call. This was the consequence of him not taking in the advice the Inspector had given him. The second character this message is portrayed through, is Mrs Birling. She, on the other hand, seems quiet at first. But as soon as she meets the Inspector, we realise there is a lot more to Mrs Birling than we first thought. We find out she is largely involved with Eva Smith’s murder, as...
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