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An Inspector Calls Characters Responsibility Essay

In An Inspector Calls, the central theme is responsibility. Priestley is interested in our personal responsibility for our own actions and our collective responsibility to society. The play explores the effect of class, age and sex on people's attitudes to responsibility, and shows how prejudice can prevent people from acting responsibly.

So, how does Priestley weave the themes through the play?


The words responsible and responsibility are used by most characters [character: A person portrayed by an actor in a play; an individual in a narrative or non-fiction text; a real or imaginary individual's personality or reputation. ] in the play at some point.

Each member of the family has a different attitude to responsibility. Make sure that you know how each of them felt about their responsibility in the case of Eva Smith.

The Inspector wanted each member of the family to share the responsibility of Eva's death: he tells them, However, his final speech is aimed not only at the characters on stage, but at the audience too:

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 intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do.

The Inspector is talking about a collective responsibility, everyone is society is linked, in the same way that the characters are linked to Eva Smith. Everyone is a part of , the Inspector sees society as more important than individual interests. The views he is propounding are like those of Priestley who was a socialist.

He adds a clear warning about what could happen if, like some members of the family, we ignore our responsibility:

And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, when they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.

What would Priestley have wanted his audience to think of when the Inspector warns the Birlings of the ?

Probably he is thinking partly about the world war they had just lived through - the result of governments blindly pursuing 'national interest' at all costs. No doubt he was thinking too about the Russian revolution in which poor workers and peasants took over the state and exacted a bloody revenge against the aristocrats who had treated them so badly.

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Social Responsibility in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

1128 Words5 Pages

An Inspector Calls

"We don't live alone. We are all members of one body. We are responsible for each other."

What is Priestley's main aim in `An inspector calls`? How successfully does he achieve it.

In `An inspector calls` by J.B Priestley, the writers aim is reflected into this quote, "We don't live alone. We are all members of one body. We are responsible for each other." Meaning that we are not isolated, we all live in one community and we are all collectively responsible for each other, our actions affects the people around us. We can be independent in the society we live in, but only to a certain extent.

Priestley's main aim was perhaps to make an audience aware that no one person can live in a society without being…show more content…

He believes that world wars are a waste of money and there?s nothing to gain from them. Only the lower classes could agree to them.

Arthur Birling`s treatment of Eva Smith, reflects in his role, in society as a hard headed business man.
?They wanted the rates raised so they could average about twenty-five shillings a week. I refused of course?.
Eva smith was a hard worker in his company, but Birling fired her as she demanded for a pay rise and was one of the main ring leaders. Birling didn?t take notice on what would happen to Eva smith after she left his works, and what happened to her after that, and what would lead her to suicide. A chain of events which he had started. Which reflects on Priestleys main aim, our actions affect people around us.

Arthur Birling cannot accept his responsibility for his treatment of Eva Smith.
?I cant accept my responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everyone, we?d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn?t it??
Birling is a character who doesn?t believe in community, he believes that everyone has to take their own responsibility and look after themselves, Priestly shows how unsuccessful a community is if a person believes that they have no responsibly for others in that society. Priestly possibly wanted to show an audience this, so they could reflect on themselves on how they view responsibly and, also on Priestleys main aim. Sybil Birling is her husbands social

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