‘An Inspector Calls’ is full of lies and deceit. Write fully about the way Priestley explores weakness and wickedness not only in the characters on stage, but also in society.
John Boynton Priestley was born in 1894 and died in 1984. He was famous for contemplating science, philosophy and writing many plays which displayed his Socialist views which advocates a socialist viewpoint since it is about caring for everyone and not just the wealthy. ‘An Inspector Calls’ is one of these. The play is about a wealthy upper-middle class family, the Birling’s, and how their views on living have changed since a visit from an Inspector. The main characters of ‘An Inspector Calls’ are the Birlings’, Inspector Goole, Gerald Croft and Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. The main characters in the play are: Arthur Birling is a successful businessman; his wife, Sybil, is very pretentious; and their unusual son, Eric, is an alcoholic. Eric’s sister, Sheila has recently got engaged to Gerald Croft, a gentleman of a slightly higher social class then the Birlings’; which makes the Birlings’ feel somewhat inferior.
Society in 1912 was very appalling, poor people were outworked and underpaid and were treated as servants. The working class were victims of this and it was still hard for the middle class. It was only better for the upper class, the nobles and the factory workers. ‘You ought to like this port, Gerald. As a matter of fact, Finchey told me this is the port your father buys’. This shows us the family is high in society as in 1912, port was only available to those who had money to buy it, also it shows that Mr Birling is trying to flatter Gerald as he feels inferior
Priestley uses the Birlings’ to show us that even if you’re rich you can still be wrong. Priestley is saying that people in society wasn’t always aware of the whole picture, normally the upper class. ‘Rose-tinted glasses’ is what Priestley describes the Birlings’ as wearing; he is saying rich people only see what they want to see. Priestley wanted us to know each other and be members of one body, caring for one another and support each other as is the socialist views. Around the time the play was written, 87% of the country’s wealth belonged to only 5% of people, leaving 13% of the country’s wealth to 95% of people. This means that most of the world population were poor.
Priestley uses lots of dramatic irony as, the audience know more then the actual characters on stage. For example, ‘Titanic ... forty-six thousand eight hundred tons... five days ... unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’. Priestley uses this quote to show that Mr Birling is rich and thinks he knows everything. Here dramatic irony is used as we know that the Titanic sunk in 1912 which shows that what Mr Birling says is meant to be viewed as ludicrous. Also, Priestley uses Inspector Goole to expose weaknesses and wickedness of all the characters, whilst being interrogated by the Inspector, lots of lies were revealed and deceit was shown. Many of these characters are hypocritical and lie to themselves, by showing the personalities among the characters; Priestley also gets the audience to question their own behaviour and how they treat each other in society.
Arthur Birling demonstrates weakness and wickedness. He shows iniquity as he treats Eva Smith/Daisy Renton very badly. Whilst Eva/Daisy was working for Birling, she asked for a higher pay, Birling said no then sacked her for going on a protest. ‘They were all rather restless, and suddenly they decided to ask for more money’. Birling sacked her for many reasons like being the leader of the protest. He refuses to believe that Eva/Daisy had a valid point and just fired her without a thought of the consequences. Birling is also a weak character. His weakness is power. Mr Birling’s narrow minded and assertive beliefs and his greed for money added to the death of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton as he used his power - his authority, class and wealth –...