The Inspectors conclusion is general. He does this to show that everyone’s lives are intertwined. That means everyone, no matter what class they are. We know this from his reactions when each character reveals something about themselves. He just takes it in and carries on asking more questions. Arthur Birling regrets nothing. By portraying him in this way this make the audience feel sympathy for him as it shows from the whole experience, he has learnt nothing. He wants to keep all of the evening’s revelations in the family. He’s terrified of a “public scandal.” He finds the whole thing particularly painful for the reason that they were all so happy earlier.
“When I think of what I was feeling when the five of us sat down to dinner. He was probably feeling content and proud. Then by the end of the evening his own aspirations are dammed, he is dismissive of the ‘younger generation’ and he shows no real remorse for his actions. He doesn’t know how to challenge the values suggested or implied in the Inspector’s remarks and actions. Sheila doesn’t agree with her father. She is ashamed of what they all did to the girl. She accuses her parents of having learnt nothing, and of being “childish” for not facing the facts. Lastly, she is frightened by the “way they talk.” They want to go on “in the same old way.”
They haven’t learnt a thing. By this I mean they want to continue discriminating the lower classes and using them for cheap labour instead of treating everyone equally. Priestly shows this because he wants us to see that by the end of the play, the children end up thinking for themselves. At the start of the play Eric, Sheila and Gerald don’t question what Arthur and Sybil Birling say, they just agree.
By the end of the play, the Inspector tries to make them all equal which destroys the family. By this I mean there isn’t like pyramid where Mr. and Mrs. Birling are at the top, where all the orders come from, then after them Gerald, and then Eric and Sheila at the bottom, being told what to do all the time . They are all evenly spread out in a line. Once Mr. and Mrs. Birling loose control, the family disintegrates. In a way, Sheila and Eric win without their parent forcing them to behave in a certain way.
Priestly presents the characters in the light that he does because he wants the audience to think that the ‘older generation’ are ‘old fashioned’ and the ‘younger generation’ are different from them. At the beginning the authority of Arthur and Sybil Birling is unquestioned. They are in control. From their point of view, the ‘younger generation’ are still basically “children” who follow dutifully in their parents’ footsteps (even though Eric and Sheila are both in their early twenties).
The younger two both say they don’t want to be like their parents and admit they’ve been spoilt and they now want to grow up and become independent. Arthur and Sheila Birling both respond differently to the death of Eva Smith but the Inspector gives his same reaction to both. How Arthur Birling responds to the idea that they are responsible for the death of Eva Smith is he has not been persuaded to view his treatment as inappropriate or irresponsible. And how Sheila responds is that she does see her part in the death of Eva Smith but differently.
Some values you could learn through the play are to treat and respect everybody as equals because that is what they deserve. To be prejudiced is a problem that people should address and try to improve on because it is very hurtful to others. If you have ever done something wrong then the play makes you think about it and what you should do if you are ever in that situation again. The best thing to do if you are in trouble or if you have done something wrong is to talk about it, however hard that might be. The important thing is to try to correct it because if you do not then it just blows up out of proportion.
This is shown well in the play when Sheila realises that she should have said something about Eric’s drinking problem as it is the main reason that he got into his terrible situation. You should have an open mind, try to improve any faults in your personality and be open to others. The main thing that the play wants people to improve on, is to have more consideration for everybody and life does not revolve around money but compassion for others. Another message that is underlined throughout the play is that all classes have different material wealths but when it comes to feelings and sensitivities, we are all equal. The final message of the play is a plea for change, a change in human nature first, then a change in society.