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...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document