riestley once said ” We must stop thinking in terms of property and power and begin thinking in terms of community and creation” How far is this conviction reflected in “An Inspector Calls”? The Play write J. B. Priestly uses the 22 years difference between when the play is set and when it was written. With such a large gap in time the play write knows Historical events which have taken place unlike the Birling Family.
With this in mind Priestley makes the Birling’s and particularly Mr Birling to look silly and sometimes very naive.The industrial revolution turned many people in wealthy businessmen and money-hungry people. Priestley portrays someone like this though Arthur Birling. The Birling household shows a capitalist attitude, where trade is controlled by private interests for private profit. Birling shows his naivety when he talks about the Titanic and the World War. “Unsinkable – absolutely unsinkable” This is Birlings speech about the titanic. He also mentions the war which he believes will not occur, but the audience know that in 1914 World War One broke out, This shows the naive side to Mr Birling. Mr Birling is a very powerful man.
In terms of setting of the play, he is incredibly powerful, as we can see from his large business, His past as a Lord Mayor, and his current status as a magistrate and his future hopes of a knight hood We can also see his power in the home in Act 1.The family are celebrating Sheila’s engagement to Gerald Croft. And although touched upon the subject of his daughters happiness in her future life and her engagement. His excitement falls more onto the business merge that will come from the marriage of Sheila and Gerald.
Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time now” “We may look forward to the day when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but working together – for lower costs and higher prices” A victim of property and power is Eva Smith also known as Daisy Renton. She is victimised and used by the Birling Family. A large chain of events begins when Eva Smith starts a strike at Mr Birling’s factory, asking for higher wages and better working standards. The strike doesn’t go well and soon after Birling uses his power over his workforce and fires Eva Smith.Birling again shows his social status and power again. “There’s a fair chance that I might find my way onto the next honours list. Just a Knighthood of course” – Mr Birling. Here Birling is bragging about his possible knighthood to brag in front of Gerald.
Even though he has no idea at all if he is actually put down on the honours list for a knighthood. He also believes that he is a victim of his own success, and because of this he automatically thinks that he will receive a Knighthood.When Priestley introduces the inspector (Goole) we can see Priestleys distaste towards this type of high-powered arrogance much like Mr Birling. We can see this when the inspector in introduced and it come across in the inspectors langauage and mannerism. “You helped but didn’t start it. (Rather savagely to Birling) You started it” Inspector Goole – Page 56. We now see the Inspectors authority and power over the Birlings again on page 33.
“(Cutting in with authority) He must wait his turn” Inspector Goole – Page 33. The inspector believes he has power over Birling and this is why he is so confident and bold whilst speaking.Prierstley makes the inspector slowly and systematically destroy the piety and arrogance of all member of the house.
By doing this Priestley builds up to a dramatic crescendo leaving the house in a state of shock and disbelief. “But just remember this, One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwine with our lives and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body.We are responsible for each other” – Inspector Page 56. We can see that thought the inspector and the storyline in the play, Priestley uses the inspector’s power over the Birlings property to show that material goods are worthless in comparison to human life and proper morals. We see this in the passage above.
Though out the play it becomes easier to see that Priestley is attempting to teach the audience. Priesley tells them that it is no important to worry about material or industrial possessions over the importance of a valuable human life.In my opinion this is an valuable lesson to be learned, This would teach the youth of today and the Mr Birlings’ and the Birling family who pride themselves on what property own and their own appearance. They are doing exactly the wrong thing, as Priesley wants them to be. These people should look at their character and their own morals.
They should also look after each other in their on community and should just not think that the world revolves around them.