The Generation Gap
The Younger Generation
In the play, the younger generation (Eric and Sheila) show that they are capable of change. They express sympathy for the strikers in act 1 an idea which horrifies Birling, who can only think of production costs and ignores the human side of the issue. They also show greater sympathy for Eva Smith. Through the play they are honest about their actions and refuse to go ac on what they have learnt. The young are honest and admit their faults. Eric refuses to try to cover his part up, saying, "the fact remains that I did what I did." •
Sheila and Eric’s ability to change means that Priestley can end the play with the element of hope. It is possible that the next generation can make society better. Without this, the play would end hopelessly, with the characters continuing to repeat their mistakes. The Older Generation
In the play, the older generation (Mr. and Mrs. Birling) seem incapable of change. They are set in their ways and see Sheila and Eric as foolish and children. •
They have little sympathy for Eva smith and are only sorry that she has died because it could impact on their lives and their reputation. •
Priestley uses Mr. and Mrs. Birling to represent old-fashioned ideas. He discredits them and hat they represent by making them look foolish and by catching them out at the end. •
The old will do anything to protect themselves: Mrs Birling lies to the Inspector when he first shows her the photograph; Mr Birling wants to cover up a potential scandal. •
They have never been forced to examine their consciences before and find they cannot do it now - as the saying goes, 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks.' •
Mr and Mrs Birling have much to fear from the visit of the 'real' inspector because they know they will lose everything.
He continues to ignore the shameful things that his family has done. When it appears that the inspector might be a hoaxer he is happy to believe that everything is as it...
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