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How does Priestley present ideas about responsibility in 'An Insector Calls'? (30 Mar

Hi! Can someone mark this essay out of thirty and give me a grade on the 9-1 scale, please?

How does Priestley present ideas about responsibility in An Inspector Calls? (30 marks)

Throughout An Insepctor Calls, using the characters and their actions, Priestley explores responsibility through the behaviour of the Birlings and Gerald towards Eva Smith.

Strongly believing that 'a man has to mind his own business' in addition to dismissing community as 'nonsense', Birling explicitly states he 'can't accept any responsibility' for Eva's death. Through these words, Priestley conveys how selfish Mr Birling is due to his capitalist ideologies. Moreover, his philosophy of 'lower wages higher prices' leads to workers striking and Eva being fired; this triggers the 'chain of events' to her ultimate death. The chain of events is a metaphor to show that 'we are responsible for each other' (Act 3). Mr Birling's clear statement shows how is an obstinate believer in his ideology especially when he does not change his ways after the Inspector leaves. Basically, all that is important for Mr Birling is his own success due to his rejection of collective responsibility, despite the negative consequences it may have on others. Priestley shows through this that capitalism is not fair and irresponsible as the actions Mr Birling uses to fulfil this ideology causes a tragic death.

However, Mr Birling's 'foil', the Inspector - who adopts the socialist ideology - firmly sets Mr Birling in place when Mr Birling tries to intimidate him with his status when he says 'public men ... have responsibilities as well as privileges'. Here, Priestley accuses Mr Birling of not only acting wrongfully but also failing to see his public position entails a duty of responsibility to the rest of society. Using the stage direction 'massively' to describe the Inspector interrupting Birling, Priestley shows the Inspector gaining power in the situation. Similarly, when the Inspector entered the house, his sharp ringing of the doorbell cuts off Mr Birling sharing his individualist, capitalist views, showing that the Inspector has the power to challenge Mr Birling's arrogant views and be a voice for the lower classes. Perhaps, Priestley is drawing upon the traditional notion that the upper class are responsible for the welfare of the lower class like in 'the Christmas Carol' - by Charles Dickens. Nonetheless in the new democratic Britain, though public men like Mrs Birling may not be of upper class, they had power and with that power comes responsibility. Preceding his exit, the Inspector states those who fail to recognise that 'we are responsible for each other, will be taught in fire, blood and anguish'. Here, Priestley is referring to the World Wars - which had taken place a year prior to this book's being published - where governments had blindly pursued the 'national interests' despite the costs of many lives. This would also be a chilling idea for the audience who had just experienced both wars. Again, Priestley demonstrates the tragic consequences of failing to recognise collective responsibilities.

As the play approximates its conclusion, the character progression of Sheila and Eric contrasts with the Birling Parents who are unable to accept any responsibility. Although all of the Birlings are responsible for Eva's mistreatment in some form, they all react differently. Whereas, Mr and Mrs Birling are only concerned about a 'scandal' and 'Arthur's knighthood', Sheila and Eric admit that they are 'really responsible' for Eva's death and disagree with Birling that if Eva Smith did not actually exist, it would have made 'all the difference'. The Birlings and Gerald believe that if Eva had not died, they will be no longer guilty or responsible and feel that they have invalidated the Inspector's argument as well as Mr Birling suggesting that Sheila 'ask Gerald for that ring'. Therefore, Priestley is showing the younger generation are responsible for adopting socialist principles and through their attitudes shows that socialism is the emerging modern manner of thinking.
I'm studying english lit this year too and I'd just like to offer a few constructive criticisms as I'm probably not the best person to accurately mark but try including the first paragraph as an introduction to the whole essay and the main ideas relating to the theme (fairly brief but concise ideas with no quotes usually). Also, talk about other characters in a bit more detail and explain your inference more.
Awesome link to context though and a great understanding of the play! :smile:
Reply 2
Original post by savage_queen
I'm studying english lit this year too and I'd just like to offer a few constructive criticisms as I'm probably not the best person to accurately mark but try including the first paragraph as an introduction to the whole essay and the main ideas relating to the theme (fairly brief but concise ideas with no quotes usually). Also, talk about other characters in a bit more detail and explain your inference more.
Awesome link to context though and a great understanding of the play! :smile:


Thanks!
Original post by Pravi29
Hi! Can someone mark this essay out of thirty and give me a grade on the 9-1 scale, please?

How does Priestley present ideas about responsibility in An Inspector Calls? (30 marks)

Throughout An Insepctor Calls, using the characters and their actions, Priestley explores responsibility through the behaviour of the Birlings and Gerald towards Eva Smith.

Strongly believing that 'a man has to mind his own business' in addition to dismissing community as 'nonsense', Birling explicitly states he 'can't accept any responsibility' for Eva's death. Through these words, Priestley conveys how selfish Mr Birling is due to his capitalist ideologies. Moreover, his philosophy of 'lower wages higher prices' leads to workers striking and Eva being fired; this triggers the 'chain of events' to her ultimate death. The chain of events is a metaphor to show that 'we are responsible for each other' (Act 3). Mr Birling's clear statement shows how is an obstinate believer in his ideology especially when he does not change his ways after the Inspector leaves. Basically, all that is important for Mr Birling is his own success due to his rejection of collective responsibility, despite the negative consequences it may have on others. Priestley shows through this that capitalism is not fair and irresponsible as the actions Mr Birling uses to fulfil this ideology causes a tragic death.

However, Mr Birling's 'foil', the Inspector - who adopts the socialist ideology - firmly sets Mr Birling in place when Mr Birling tries to intimidate him with his status when he says 'public men ... have responsibilities as well as privileges'. Here, Priestley accuses Mr Birling of not only acting wrongfully but also failing to see his public position entails a duty of responsibility to the rest of society. Using the stage direction 'massively' to describe the Inspector interrupting Birling, Priestley shows the Inspector gaining power in the situation. Similarly, when the Inspector entered the house, his sharp ringing of the doorbell cuts off Mr Birling sharing his individualist, capitalist views, showing that the Inspector has the power to challenge Mr Birling's arrogant views and be a voice for the lower classes. Perhaps, Priestley is drawing upon the traditional notion that the upper class are responsible for the welfare of the lower class like in 'the Christmas Carol' - by Charles Dickens. Nonetheless in the new democratic Britain, though public men like Mrs Birling may not be of upper class, they had power and with that power comes responsibility. Preceding his exit, the Inspector states those who fail to recognise that 'we are responsible for each other, will be taught in fire, blood and anguish'. Here, Priestley is referring to the World Wars - which had taken place a year prior to this book's being published - where governments had blindly pursued the 'national interests' despite the costs of many lives. This would also be a chilling idea for the audience who had just experienced both wars. Again, Priestley demonstrates the tragic consequences of failing to recognise collective responsibilities.

As the play approximates its conclusion, the character progression of Sheila and Eric contrasts with the Birling Parents who are unable to accept any responsibility. Although all of the Birlings are responsible for Eva's mistreatment in some form, they all react differently. Whereas, Mr and Mrs Birling are only concerned about a 'scandal' and 'Arthur's knighthood', Sheila and Eric admit that they are 'really responsible' for Eva's death and disagree with Birling that if Eva Smith did not actually exist, it would have made 'all the difference'. The Birlings and Gerald believe that if Eva had not died, they will be no longer guilty or responsible and feel that they have invalidated the Inspector's argument as well as Mr Birling suggesting that Sheila 'ask Gerald for that ring'. Therefore, Priestley is showing the younger generation are responsible for adopting socialist principles and through their attitudes shows that socialism is the emerging modern manner of thinking.


What was the question before that one as aqa have now changed the specimen paper
Reply 4
Original post by Adam_Bouattou
What was the question before that one as aqa have now changed the specimen paper


Sorry, I don't know.
I’m studying English lit too, and I think that maybe you need to go in to a bit more depth in your analysis. Maybe you could talk about how Mr Birling believes the only valuable things are money and social status, and that he doesn’t care who he throws under the bus to get them, unable to understand that there is a consequence for every action. Mrs Birling is very narrow minded because she has always been from the upper class and almost lives in a bubble, so does not understand the hardships of life. She also has this perception that everyone from the lower class are disgusting and vile, and are responsible for whatever they face in life.
By showing a better understanding of the characters themselves, it’s easier to get higher marks, but I think your essay is really good overall and would get a great mark!
Reply 6
Original post by Cat.killeen
I’m studying English lit too, and I think that maybe you need to go in to a bit more depth in your analysis. Maybe you could talk about how Mr Birling believes the only valuable things are money and social status, and that he doesn’t care who he throws under the bus to get them, unable to understand that there is a consequence for every action. Mrs Birling is very narrow minded because she has always been from the upper class and almost lives in a bubble, so does not understand the hardships of life. She also has this perception that everyone from the lower class are disgusting and vile, and are responsible for whatever they face in life.
By showing a better understanding of the characters themselves, it’s easier to get higher marks, but I think your essay is really good overall and would get a great mark!


Thank you!
I think your essay was amazing with good explanations and quotes i would give a mark for that fantastic essay
Reply 8
Thank you!
Original post by Samirah12
I think your essay was amazing with good explanations and quotes i would give a mark for that fantastic essay
Reply 9
Essay Marking: An Inspector Calls - Responsibility (out of 30)
Marks: 24/30 Grade: 7 (B)
Strengths:

Clear focus on the theme of responsibility.

Good use of textual evidence to support claims about Mr. Birling and the Inspector.

Identification of contrasting characters (Sheila/Eric vs. Mr./Mrs. Birling).

Links between the play's historical context (post-WWII) and Priestley's message.

Areas for Improvement:

Limited analysis of other characters' contribution to Eva's death (Gerald, Mrs. Birling).

Could explore the concept of "chain of events" in more depth.

The explanation of Priestley's socialist ideology could be broadened.

Consider including some counter-arguments to strengthen the overall analysis.

Detailed Feedback:

Your essay effectively explores Mr. Birling's capitalist views and how they contribute to Eva's tragedy.

To strengthen your analysis, consider including how other characters like Mrs. Birling and Gerald also play a role. How do their actions and attitudes contribute to the chain of events?

The "chain of events" metaphor is a good starting point. You could delve deeper by discussing how each character's actions link to the next, ultimately leading to Eva's death.

You correctly identify the Inspector as a socialist foil to Mr. Birling. Expanding on the core socialist principles Priestley advocates for would enrich your analysis.

The reference to the World Wars is a good point. Consider elaborating on how Priestley might be suggesting that societal disregard for collective responsibility led to such devastating conflicts.

Overall:
This is a good essay with a clear understanding of the play's central theme. By incorporating the suggestions above, you can elevate your analysis to a higher level.

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