AQA An Inspector Calls

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Report Thread starter 7 years ago
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Priestly uses Arthur Birling to add a new perspective into the play An Inspector Calls. He provides a strong capitalist view, contrasting the socialist one that Priestly has which is shown through the role of the Inspector. He shows Arthur's flaws immediately and presents him as naive and almost stupid, showing how flawed the society was in this time and showing how idiotic Priestly thinks the capitalist believers are.Arthur firstly shows his disgust for people working together as a team and helping each other. He believes that people should make their own way in life without the help of others. This is shown in 'we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive'. This shows how Arthur doesn't want to be 'mixed up' with other people that aren't in the same class as him. His disgusted tone shows how this idea repulses him, and that he has worked hard to get where he is and it would be insulting to compare him to the lower classes who he thinks don't work as hard as him. However, the word 'bees' suggests that by themselves, the bees are relatively harmless and can only sting once before they die, but by working together they can cause a lot of harm and are fearful to others. Priestly could have used this to show how he thinks people working together makes them stronger, and by having class barriers it makes us weak, however as we are all the same without money and he thinks we should break down these barriers and work as a community and be much more powerful. The word 'hive' reinforces this, and represents the community. Everyone is the same inside and works together to produce a strong power. However, in a hive there is also a queen bee, and Mr Birling's opposition to this could suggest that he is jealous, and he wants to hold all the power, however he is only the middle class and according to his theory he cannot be at the top of the social ladder so he would be viewed as the same as the rest of the 'bees'. It could also suggest that he doesn't think there should be one person that is above the rest, but it is a level that he aims to strive for. He could also be showing how he doesn't want to be isolated from other people as he frequently shows how he is a 'hard headed businessman', therefore relies on other people to gain success. This also shows him as hypocritical, as he doesn't want to mix with other people, yet relies on others to have the power in society that he does.Priestly also shows how Arthur doesn't change in his views despite the valuable lessons the Inspector taught the family. He starts the play saying things such as 'a man has to make his own way' and 'community and all that nonsense' and by the end he is the same. He doesn't take responsibility for the death of Eva, and instead views people like her as 'cheap labour' and refuses to higher wages for his workers, instead actively made things worse for them.In contrast, his daughter Sheila shows the complete opposite and changes her view on society greatly. She starts the play being childish and referring to Sybil as 'mummy' and using words such as 'squiffy'. However as the inspector reveals how everyone is involved in the death of Eva Smith, she becomes 'half serious, half playful', showing how she is starting to see how she may not share the same capitalist views as her parents and is starting to think for herself. By the end of the play, Sheila becomes totally different to her parents, she shows compassion for Eva when she finds out what happens to her, saying things such as 'was she pretty?' And takes full responsibility for her death and is very sorry. She also contradicts her father and says 'but these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people'. By using Sheila in this way, Priestly shows the contrast in conservative, traditional views of the older generation and the liberal, modern views of the younger generation. Through this, Arthur appears old fashioned and wrong in the new, liberal society, whereas Sheila is seen as open minded and right in the eyes of the audience as she is compassionate and sympathetic. His lack of responsibility is also shown at the end of the play when the family discover that the inspector isn't a real inspector and will not reveal them to the rest of the world. Arthur is delighted to avoid a 'public scandal' whereas Sheila especially takes the Inspectors final speech to heart and realises that it's not about what happened that night, but what they learned from it which is important, but Arthur is oblivious to this and again makes him appear foolish and dislikable.Furthermore, Arthur is also shown as loosing power within his family in the play. At the start of the play, Arthur holds the most power within his family as he is the father and man of the household. He is confident and ambitious, and all that is important to him is his social image, like whether or not he gets a knighthood. However with him trying so hard to be be viewed as a worthy man, he is viewed as idiotic, for example when Eric asks him about the war. He says that they are only 'silly little war scares', yet the audience knows that this was set only two years before the First World War. Priestly uses this dramatic irony to make Arthur's optimism seem foolish which undermines his authority and makes the audience see how ridiculous his views are and makes him appear untrustworthy. Also in this speech he talks about the Titanic being unsinkable, which is another example of the dramatic irony, but also shows how at the start of the play Mr Birling thinks that he's 'unsinkable', but by the end of the play his power, like the titanic, has sunk too. One way this happens is as soon as the inspector arrives. Immediately the inspector turns the family against each other and reveals how they were all responsible for the death of Eva Smith, shifting the power at once to himself. The family appears confused, but the inspector never is and he picks the family apart one by one, showing how he has the authority to control what's going on. Mr Birling now has no control over his children as they are able to form their own opinions and realise that they're different from their parents, which Priestly may have used to show the contrast between traditional and new views on socialism and class.In conclusion, Priestly uses Arthur Birling to add perspective and a different viewpoint to the play. Throughout An Inspector Calls he is presented as foolish, naive and a hypocrite who only worries about business and reputation, not about community or responsibility. Through this Priestly shows her strong socialist views and how wrong she thinks capitalism is, showing through the children how traditional views don't have to be followed and to have a voice of your own.
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