This Investment and greed shows he is very satisfied with himself leading him to ignore his guilt of driving Eva Smith to death. At this stage he shows how wealth has made him a “rather Portentous man”, by having a grand toast on a family occasion. Eric doesn’t like this and wants to celebrate the occasion in a way that opposes his father’s upper-class status. He doesn’t want to go through toasts and speeches “well don’t do any, we’ll drink their health and have over and done with”. This shows his father has not had a lot of influence in his upbringing.
He has been concerned too much with his business and wealth leaving his children adopting ways of life which he opposes e. g. talking against elders. Because of Mr Birling’s neglect of his children’s upbringing, they could not talk to him about their problems which made those matters worse. What J. B Priestly is trying to say about people/parents of like the Birlings, is that they are concerned with their lives only and, what they benefit from. That is why their children are left to deal with their own problems. They don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents.
Eric says this at the end of the play when his parents want a scapegoat and blame him for everything including their own misdeeds ignoring their own guilt. They tell him he should have come to his father when he was in trouble. Eric clearly tells Mr Birling what sort of father he is to his children “you’re not the type of father a chap would come to when he is trouble”. Mr Birling was looking for a knighthood, because of his service as a magistrate and a lord mayor. He expresses all this by talking to Gerald “so well I gather there’s a good chance of a knighthood.
So long as we behave ourselves, don’t get into court”. Now the audience are unaware of what Birling has done that could get him into court. Because of his civil service, Mr Birling thinks himself to know everything. The audience know he is wrong because he is talking about what the future holds (future as in the audience’s time of the 1940s). The audience know what has happened. He predicts the Titanic is unsinkable; there will not be a war. Capital . v. Labour will be finished. He is wrong in each case. This is how Priestly creates dramatic irony.
Mr Birling continuously tells every one of his social superior by contentiously mentioning himself being a “hard headed business man”, which proves he is a show off. Sheila and Eric a still young and learning that’s why they are easily changed by the Inspector. They know their mistakes and try to conceal them. Both want a happy life, thinking nothing has happened. They wanted to let out their guilt that’s why they are not changed by the fact that the inspector was not a real inspector after all. Both continuously say, “It doesn’t matter if he wasn’t a real inspector after all.
Sheila and Eric both represent the younger generation. Gerald is the same age as Sheila and Eric, but his reaction is more like the senior Birlings. This is because he leaves half way through the inspector’s enquiries. He realises that the Inspector is a mysterious character who is not here to bring any justice but to change the way the Birlings who represent the society. He succeeds in changing the younger future generations and not the older generations. However, Gerald is still guilty and regrets what he has done. Eva Smith represents the working class. J.
B Priestly through Eva Smith tries to show the struggle of a working class woman. He shows how each of the Birlings and Gerald use Eva Smith/Daisy Renton for a period and then throw her away like some rubbish. The audience are shown how the actions of Capital upper-class people destroy young people’s lives and in Eva Smith’s case if the problem persists, are forced to commit suicide. J. B. Priestly shows the impact the upper-class people have on working-class people. The neglect to the needs of the working-class peoples lives has lead to factors such as Capitalism .
V. Labour. The working class people are not treated as humans by the Birlings specially Mr & Mrs Birling. After realising what Eva Smith’s Relationship is with Eric, and therefore with the Birlings, Mrs Birling doesn’t like Eva Smith, so she refuses help even though she has realised what Eva Smith has been through. She pretends nothing has happened. However, she doesn’t know Eric was the father of the child and when the inspector questions her, she tells him her opinion “I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have.
If, as she said, he didn’t belong to her class and was some drunken young idler, then that’s all the more reason why he shouldn’t escape. He should be made an example of. If the girl’s death is due to any body it is due to him”. However she backs her self by trying to say her deeds were alright and not wrong “The girl asked for assistance and we carefully looked at her claims, she seemed to me to be not a very good case so I used my influenced and refused. Later on, she admits that “I didn’t like her manner, she’d impertinently used our name.
The above quotations tell the story of why she was refused for the very last time. The Inspector knows each of the Birling and Gerald’s role in driving Eva Smith to commit suicide. He makes sure no one backs out or tells lies. I don’t think he is a real inspector, because he wasn’t moved to make any arrests or when Mr Birling said “I was an older man for four years and Lord Mayor for two years ago- I’m still on the Bench, I know the officers pretty well. Mr Birling is trying to say look don’t waste my time or your jobs in danger.
Instead, the Inspector leaves, leaving Mr Birlings position in the society and for a knighthood threatening. He leaves with a speech aimed at concluding Eva Smiths death. Some points which J. B Priestly says through the inspector relate to the morality of the play. Some of these points are “one Eva Smith gone but there are millions left, with their lives, hopes and fears, suffering and chance of happiness all intertwined with our lives. We are members of one body; we are responsible for each other.
And I tell you a time would come when, if men not learn that lesson they will be taught in hell and blood and anguish”. J. B. Priestly is speaking through the Inspector. Hell could mean as in an after life punishment or as in the world will be hell to live in (WW2). J. B. Priestly is trying to tell the morals of the play in this speech. He is telling people what was the world like years before the war and how we are effected by people like the Birlings and what impact Capitalist had on us. He is telling his audience that their social problems are still not solved.