An Inspector Calls EssayWatch
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How is the theme of social responsibility shown in the play An Inspector Calls
The play An Inspector Calls is about a rich upper class family and how their actions, which could be said to be down to their lack of social responsibility, have resulted in the death of Eva Smith. Once the Inspector is found out to be a “fake”, Gerald, Mrs and Mr Birling rejoice and deny any responsibility, just as the inspector had warned the not to. The juxtaposition of this is that those who do not take responsibility for their actions will cause suffering again and again.
At the start of the play, Mr Birling is questioned as to why he sacked Eva Smith, his reply was that if he “didn’t come down hard on these people” they would “soon be asking for the Earth”. He said that his workers welfare were not his responsibility, this highlights his lack of social responsibility. This forces Eva Smith to find a new job.
Eva begins work at a clothes shop, which she thinks is ‘a good change’. Unfortunately this is ruined by Shelia how says she will persuade her mother to “close her account (with the the shop)” and will not go “near the place again” unless Eva is sacked. This highlights Sheilas’ lack of social responsibility as she has just got Eva Smith sacked because she was feeling ‘jealous of her good looks’. This forces Eva to look for another job.
Unable to find decent work, Eva then begins work as a prostitute in the “Palace Bar” . This is were she meets Gerald, who takes her in to his friends apartment as he ‘felt sorry for her’. Here she leads “a good life” for “a few months”. Once his friend returned from Canada Eva had to be removed from the apartment, Gerald gave her enough money “to keep her going for a while”, this is where he said good bye to Eva. Social responsibility is comes to light again as Gerald has taken responsibility for Eva, made her happy and helped her have ‘possibly the best time in her life’, after which she headed back to the palace bar.
It is here she meets Eric who “used like an animal as the end to a drunken night out”. After that they meet again where she tells him she is
pregnant, he reacts by stealing money from his father, “about £50” “just enough to keep her going”. This lack of social responsibility has resulted in Eva getting pregnant, and another burden on her life. Eva then finds out that the money was stolen and refuses to take any more
With no other resort, Eva Smith decided to apply to charity for help. Her attempt to gain “a pitiful bit of organised charity” was turned down by Mrs Birling who said she was “prejudice against her” because “she tried to impersonate me (Mrs Birling)”. Mrs Birling clearly lacks social responsibility as she put her emotions and dignity before looking after vulnerable women, such as Eva Smith, which ultimately lead to Eva killing herself.
Once the inspector has finished with the Birlings and Gerald he says that “we are like bees in a hive”. In context, the inspector is saying that our society is closely linked, like bees in hive, and that “we are all responsible for each other”. This is very closely linked in with social responsibility because if we live so closely, as close as bees do, then one, or several actions action will effect everyone just as the Birlings have found out.
Social responsibility is arguably the most important theme of An Inspector Calls as the whole plot spirals around how entirely isolated events can easily add up and cause catastrophe, as it did for the Birlings, Gerald and Eva Smith.
The fact that Mr, Mrs B and Gerald do not change their mind about social responsibility could be said to be why a man phones them at the end say a girl died on her way the infirmary, and a police inspector will be there to see them, despite the inspectors’ warnings.
rely on a narrative approach with some misreadings; make a personal response to the text.
may make generalised comments about stylistic effects.
make simple comments on textual background.
Responses will show some appropriate quality of written communication.
display some understanding of main features; make generalised reference to relevant aspects of the text, echoing and paraphrasing;
begin to select relevant detail.
recognise and make simple comments on particular features of style and structure.
show a limited awareness of social/cultural and historical contexts;
begin to be aware how social/cultural and historical context is relevant to understanding the text(s).
Responses will show generally appropriate quality of written communication.
make more detailed reference to text;
discuss thoroughly, and increasingly thoughtfully, characters and relationships;
probe the sub-text with increasing confidence; select and evaluate relevant textual details;
understand and demonstrate how writers use ideas, themes and settings to affect the reader;
convey ideas clearly and appropriately.
see how different aspects of style and structure combine to create effects;
show increasingly clear appreciation of how meanings and ideas are conveyed through language, structure and form.
set texts in contexts more securely;
begin to see how texts have been influential;
have a clear grasp of social/cultural and historical context; begin to be able to relate texts to own and others’ experience.
Responses will show generally correct quality of written communication.
make increasingly assured selection and incorporation of relevant detail;
are able to speculate/offer tentative judgements; evaluate characters/relationships and attitudes/motives;
at the highest level, consistently handle texts with confidence, have an overview and ability to move from the specific to the general;
convey ideas persuasively and cogently with apt textual support.
show appreciation of how writers use language to achieve specific effects;
make assured exploration and evaluation of the ways meaning, ideas and feeling are conveyed through language, structure and form;
at the highest level, make assured analysis of stylistic features.
show a clear understanding of social/cultural and historical contexts;
relate texts to own and others’ experience;
identify and comment on importance of social/cultural and historical contexts. Awareness of literary tradition shown; at the highest level, show a clear understanding of social/cultural and historical contexts;
relate details of text to literary background and explain how texts have been/are influential at different times.