Magnificent play

he Inspector himself is one of the main mediums used by Priestley to express his views of society. In fact the Inspector is used as a literary expedient that is used to forward the plot, almost like a catalyst; he is also used as the interlocutor who unfolds the play. On page 41 the inspector says: “Public men, Mr Birling have responsibilities as well as privileges. ” Here the Inspector acts as the voice of Priestley himself as the socialist, left-winged intellectual. The Inspector can be described as enigmatic, determined and forceful. It is these characteristics, which ensure his control over the events of the play.

His mysterious demeanor means that the family is not prepared for the way in which he speaks to them and behaves towards them. He is determined in his search for the full story and forceful in making each character face up to their guilt and ‘responsibility’, the main theme of the play. On page 56 the Inspector pretty much gives us the whole meaning of the book in a nutshell he mentions “One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions of Eva Smith’s and John Smiths still left with us… we don’t live alone. We are all members of one body…

we are responsible for each other. ” This alone can sum up the whole book. We learn about everything that Priestley sees in the society the notion of responsibility, and collectiveness; both ideas are lacked by Mr. Birling and are taught to us. Mrs. Birling another important character (Mr. Birling’s wife), is a character who maintains the status quo. From page 3 we can see an excellent example of how she doses this: “Shelia… when you’re married you’ll realize that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business…

you’ll have to get used to that, just as I had. ” From this speech towards Sheila we see that she knows her position in the family and she expects her daughter to know hers as well. This goes to the rest of society, the notion of knowing where you are placed in society. On page 31 Mrs. Birling says “I’m talking now if you don’t mind… You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago”, here Priestley questions the abuse of power of the ruling class – Mrs. Birling is used to being not questioned.

Therefore this represents the time when aristocrats were obeyed by the lower class just because of their position. It is almost as if Mrs. Birling seeks to remind the inspector of his ‘place’ by reminding him that her husband was ‘Lord Mayor’. From this play we also see another side of Mrs. Birling as she dehumisises those at the bottom of the social hierarchy i. e. Eva Smith. By doing this it makes it easier for her to exploit them. For example on page 47 Mrs. Birling describes to the Inspector how she exploited her.

“As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money! ” from this we can clearly see Mrs. Birling’s uncaring, exploitive nature of the ruling class which she represents. In this essay I have covered how Priestley creates a perfect model of the world as it previously was in the bad, old days of Capitalism; when bosses where free to exploit the working class and other social classes. This play is nothing but a warning that we should never return to the days of Capitalism – this is Priestley’s whole reason for writing this magnificent play.

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