How does Priestley present the theme of responsibility in An Inspector Calls?

Good Essays
How does priestley explore the theme of responsibility in ‘An Inspector calls’?

The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a political satire written by a devoted socialist, J.B Priestley – an ex-soldier who fought in World War I. The play was set in 1912, 2 years prior to World War I; however it was written and published in 1945 – just after world war II. Priestley uses this time difference effectively to emphasise the British society of 1912, where there were firm class and gender barriers; Priestly detested this and was passionate towards the need of collective responsibility – he believed that if there was no change, the consequence would be ‘blood, fire and anguish’. Nonetheless most of these barriers were violated by 1945; Priestly wanted to make the most of these changes. Throughout his play, he influences his audience of 1945 to take advantage of the opportunity the end of the war had set them to reform an enhanced, more compassionate society.
J.B Priestly portrays Mr. Arthur Birling as an arrogant, hard-headed, selfish capitalist who is only concerned about his reputation. Priestley intentionally exaggerates this character to corroborate his own political agenda. Birling’s thoughts towards socialist ideologies about the significance of community is ‘nonsense’ and that “a man has to make his own way”. This indicates that he has no interest whatsoever in social responsibility – through his business or his family. In Act One, Mr Birling dictates his predictions for what he thinks is going to happen in the future. He states that “The world’s developing so fast it’ll make war impossible.” the readers already know that World War I and II have already taken place. Furthermore, he says that the Titanic is ‘absolutely unsinkable’; the audience already know that t he Titanic has sunk. Moreover, he believes that there will be ‘peace and prosperity and rapid progress everywhere’. To the audience of 1945, this character would have been viewed as laughably optimistic and

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    'An Inspector Calls', many contrasts and paradox's are present and at the centre of them all is the character known as Inspector Goole. However, the inspector is not any ordinary inspector. I believe that the inspector is used as a device by Priestley to explore the wider themes of the play and to depict other characters true personalities. This essay will explore some of the techniques Priestley presents the inspector in An Inspector Calls. One of the ways Priestley presents the inspector is through…

    • 821 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    How does Priestley use Eva Smith as a dramatic device? Priestley represents Eva as a dramatic device in the play ‘An Inspector Calls’ in many different ways, and also uses her to connect everybody to making them/(all characters) guilty for Eva Smith's death. At the beginning of the play in Act 1 scene 1, Priestley uses Eva to represent the voiceless “she’d left a letter there and sort of a diary”, it's as if Priestley is using the Inspector to represent Eva, making Eva voiceless, as if the Inspector…

    • 524 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The playwright of 'An Inspector Calls' John Boynton Priestly was alive between 1894 and 1984, in this time he served in the First World War where in 1916 he was badly injured. It wasn't until the end of the Second World War in 1945 that he wrote 'An Inspector Calls'; he chose to set the play thirty years in the past before either wars had happened- in 1912. Priestly was a renowned socialist and highly respected in his time- with his own radio show which around twenty million tuned into each week…

    • 529 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    How important do you think is the theme of love in “An Inspector Calls”? How does Priestley presents different forms of love in the play? At the beginning of the play, Sheila and Gerald’s relationship is unbalanced because Gerald sees himself as the dominant one, and is controlling. Sheila is naïve, quite immature for her age and impressionable. Gerald chose and bought the engagement ring for Sheila, without her having any say about it, and she just accepts that without questioning Gerald. She…

    • 1906 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    An inspector calls by J.B Priestley presents the theme of responsibility. Each of the characters in the play has a narrow view of responsibility and it is the inspector s role to make them, as well as us aware of our accountability and responds to others. J.B Priestley uses the character to set an example that each of them has a different attitude toward responsibility. The inspector wants each character to share the responsibility of Eva’s death. The message Priestley tries to deliver in is that…

    • 209 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    How does Priestley present the inspector in the play? Priestley presents the inspector as a man who enjoys allowing people to feel intimidated by his presence. This is shown in the quote: “He creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.” This infers that although he may not be ‘massive’, he gains satisfaction from creating an impression of this. The word ‘solidity’ implies that he is a well kept together and reliable man, that perhaps he has the capability of making…

    • 1069 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    How does Priestley present the character of Inspector Goole? Priestley has craftily created a dominant and forceful character in order to clash with the Birling family and drive the conflict in play- socialism & capitalism His methodical and systematic approach helps draw out the tension and mystery of the play Authoritative, does not get intimated even against Birling’s threat, that Chief constable Roberts is an “old friend” “play golf together sometimes” Delivers Priestley’s central message of…

    • 894 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    do not live alone. We are members of one body.’ How does this play highlight the theme of responsibility? ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a detective/drama play written in 1945 by J.B. Priestley. Priestley believed in very socialist views that are very much about sharing and same values for all. Theses get reflected in the play, most notably as his role as the inspector, where Priestley most outputs his views in direct contrast with Mr Birling. Priestley portrays Birling as an idiotic capitalist that is…

    • 846 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    How is the theme of responsibility Explored in ‘An Inspector Calls?’ There are many theme in the play in 'An Inspector Calls. This was written by J.B.Priestley on 1945 and set on 1912. The play begins with the engagement party of Sheila and Gerald. Sheila is the daughter of Birlings', who own a successful business. During the party an Inspector comes and started to enquire about a woman who has just committed suicide. From the course of the play we know that each members of the Birling family…

    • 2742 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Major Themes Class Taking the play from a socialist perspective inevitably focuses on issues of social class. Class is a large factor, indirectly, in the events of the play and Eva Smith’s death. Mrs. Birling, Priestley notes, is her husband’s social superior, just as Gerald will be Sheila’s social superior if they do get married. Priestley also subtly notes that Gerald’s mother, Lady Croft, disapproves of Gerald’s marrying Sheila for precisely this reason. Finally, everyone’s treatment of…

    • 746 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays