Could someone tell me what grade this practice question is?
Social class is very important in an inspector calls as its influence can be seen throughout the criminal play. Priestley presents social class by using different characters. These characters are made up by priestley to convey his ideas and views.
At the beginning of the play (act 1) the stage directions indicate the various social classes of the characters, for example we can infer that Mr Birling is of the upper working class in society as he is a ‘prosperous manufacturer’ this invites to believe that Mr Birling is a hard working man, however the use of ‘prosperous’ can invite us to believe that priestley has created character of mr Birling to represent the pride of the upper working class that lead to death and destruction. Priestley has done this to invite the reader to believe that the character of mr Birling has a false sense of pride, Priestley my have done this to create a sense of hate in the reader for Mr Birling this can also indicate the views of priestly about the upper working class in the 1912 as the play is set in 1912, furthermore the use of the word ‘manufacturer’ draws upon the idea of capitalism as the upper class owned everything as the society (mainly working class and lower class) was controlled by a monopoly.
Later on in act 1 Mr Birling's pride can be seen in the play when his character says ‘Germans don’t want war. Nobody wants war’ priestley has used dramatic irony to make our haterade towards Mr Birling increase as the audience knows that the war happened and another one after that, this invites the reader to believe that Mr Birling is delusional and has a false sense of pride as he is wrong. The repetition of the word ‘war’ emphasises that mr birling is wrong, furthermore priestley may have created the character of mr birling to represent the upper working class in 1912 so the feelings that he has created in the audience is directed at the irresponsible upper working class, on the other hand Priestley maybe trying to hint that the upper working class caused the first world war as they thought they knew everything but they didn’t which invites us to hate them even more.
This can also be seen as Priestley trying to vent his anger and frustration for the upper working class in the past and how he didn’t agree with the idea of social classes being treated differently, so he created the character of mr birling to indicate that the social class system was wrong this also carries priestley's socialist ideas on society and how everyone should be equal.
In act 3 we learn that social class is an important factor in society as the upper class were not always arrogant and selfish we learn this when the character of the inspector asks Eric ‘you mean you stole the money?’ and Eric’s character replies ‘Not really.’ priestley has done this to indicate that the upper working social class were irresponsible and careless, as the quote ‘Not really’ symbolises uncertainty and this contradicts the idea of the upper working social class being all knowing, Priestley may have done this to reduce the hate the audience has for the new generation of the upper working class, as the new generation (Eric) cares for the lower working class, as his character stole the money to help Eva smith who was vulnerable and helpless, priestley have indicated to the audience
That the upper working class can be caring and sympathetic, similarly to Eric’s character the character of Gerald has similar views as he also ‘helped’ Eva Smith (Daisy Renton), however the audience carries the feeling of hate towards the upper social class as he used Eva Smith for personal pleasure and not to help her, both Eric and Gerald are the new generation but both have different views because of their social class, the audience feels that the new upper working class is trying to change but the upper class still has the same views, Priestley has done this to indicate that the two social classes were very different.
The difference in social class can be seen as very important for women. For example in Sheila Birling is treated differently to Eva smith, because of their social class Sheila is not expected to work and is seen as a different person to Eva, who is expected to work and is seen as a whore by men who have encountered her. Moreover near the middle of the play when sheila encountered Eva for the first time she got her sacked from the shop, Priestley may have done this to indicate the upper working class owned or controlled the lower working class. Once more this creates a sense of sympathy for Eva and a sense of hate for Sheila, however later on in the play Sheila realises her mistake and feels sorry for Eva smith when she says ‘...aren’t cheap labour - they’re people.’ this indicates that sheila the new generation of the upper working class is different to the older generation of working class, priestley may have used a hyphen to indicate that the new generation is different to the old generation on the other hand this could mean that the two generations are linked and have similar views. Priestley may have done this to indicate that the upper working class may have learnt their lesson but it was too late to do anything about it. Moreover the character of Eva may have been created by priestley to represent a large group of lower working class women as smith is a popular name, so her death could possibly represent the deaths of many lower working class women. However Sheila on the other hand is a less popular name, and priestley may have used this represent that only a small number of upper working class women learnt their lesson.
At the end of the play the second death carries with it priestley’s political point that that lessons of ww1 represented by the death of eva were not learnt so the birlings now face the final word of the play ‘questions’ priestley’s question in 1945 could be that how did the ruling classes allow ww2 to occur so that millions of eva smiths lost their lives again. Eric and sheila who represent the younger generation who grew up in the interwar years and failed to live up to their responsibility, priestley’s play may reflect the mood of the country who accepted a socialist government. The crime play indicates that it is not sheila and eric who learnt the inspectors lesson but it's is the next generation, their kids who learnt the inspectors lesson.
an inspector calls
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