mdebrm2009
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How does Priestly develop the themes of ‘Social Responsibility’ and ‘Power’ across the course of the play and how does the genre of the text help the writer show the significance of the two themes? any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks
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Stratx
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This is quite a good question as it quite broad (however still try to keep on track). I did this 2 years ago so just from memory but can try find my old CGP for you but can give you a starting point off the top of my head.
Social Responsibility
For Social Responsibility you can talk about how the guilt of the characters develops throughout the play. For example Both Mr and Mrs Birling are very arrogant and have no guilt whatsoever and Mrs Birling feels that "She only has herself to blame". Whereas Priestley, who was a strong socialist, portrays the younger generation to be more socially responsible, realising the effect that their actions had on others. Sheila is brought to tears, similarly Eric tried to support her. Gerald is quite a confusing character, because he is associated with being upper class and a product of the capitalist system, whereas he is also part of the younger generation. You can talk about the contrast between these and Priestley attempts to inspire the audience to recognise the effect that their actions have on others. Priestley, being socialist, believes that we should be more equal and tries to break down this class barrier throughout the play, promoting socialism.

Power
With power, I'm not quite sure how I'd answer this. You can talk about how the power balance shifts from the older generation to the younger generation. Priestley uses the young people as his protagonist. Mr Birling is left very timid at the end of the play fearing for his reputation, whereas the young people appear to be educated and reformed, becoming more self-aware. Whereas at the beginning birling and gerald are quite controlling you could argue.

I'll try find my old notes for you if you want.
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mdebrm2009
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Thank you for your reply, yes if you could find your notes that would be really helpful. I'm struggling with how the genre fiction drama show the significance if the two themes. I wanted to write about the genre being a morality play but im not allowed.
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Stratx
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(Original post by mdebrm2009)
Thank you for your reply, yes if you could find your notes that would be really helpful. I'm struggling with how the genre fiction drama show the significance if the two themes. I wanted to write about the genre being a morality play but im not allowed.
Morality and Social Responsibility are kinda similar when you look at it. Look at the morality of young vs old and sort of link it to responsibility.
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Stratx
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Here is a few quotes
Mrs Birling “I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have.”,
The Inspector "Each of you helped to kill her" , suggesting they are all equally responsible.
"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." Here the inspector questions the audiences own morality.

I think you can sort of write about morality but make sure you stay on track and answer the question.
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mdebrm2009
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This is what ive wrote so far, do you think ive covered everything from the question. I i have 700-800 word limit

The theme of social responsibility is explored throughout the course of the play, Priestly uses the genre, fiction drama, to highlight the theme of social responsibility, this is evident in Mr Birling’s quote from act 1, ‘as if we’re all mixed up together, like bees in a hive- community and all that nonsense. But take my word for it, you youngsters- and I've learnt in the good hard school of experience – that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own.’ Right then the doorbell rings, it is Inspector Goole. Expanding on the fiction drama, it seems as though Arthur Birling has summoned the inspector to the Birlings for speaking about not accepting social responsibility and believing that his actions don’t have consequences. JB Priestly was a socialist, he wanted to empahsise that people should be responsible for their own actions and that everybody's actions have consequences on society as a whole. In the play the inspector represents Priestly himself, he uses the inspector to attack capitalism, the class system and hypocricy, and it works. Priestly gets his audience involved as suspects, as they begin to question their own behaviour and wonder if their own actions have had a similar effect on other people. He hopes the members of the audience leave the play a better person.
Later on, in Act 3 of the play the Priestly uses the inspector's parting words to the Birlings to show how the theme of social responsibility has developed, ‘We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.’ As all of the Birlings did not accept responsibility for their part in the death of Eva Smith they now have to pay for it. This powerful quote is a reference to war. It is no accident that this play was set just before WW1 and the first screening was one week after WW2 the date is extremely significant. Eva Smith represents all working-class women, and both of her deaths in the play represent WW1 and WW2. What Priestly is trying to empahsise is that WW2 was caused by the people that did not learn lessons from WW1, if they had learned their lesson WW2 would never have happened and if the Birlings had learned their lesson the second death of Eva Smith would also not have happened. Both Eric and Gerald probably would have fought in WW1. Priestly was not the only person that felt this way, funnily enough, after the war, the whole country voted for Clement Atlee’s socialist government.
The theme of power plays an important role throughout the play, each character uses their power in a different way. The genre fiction drama highlights the theme of power in the stage directions at the beginning of the play; ‘The lighting should be pink and intimate until the inspector arrives and then it should be brighter and harder.’ these stage directions show that the inspector holds a lot of power, he takes the fight to them, enabling the Birlings to see the light as they were seeing the world through rose-tinted spectacles.
At the very end of the play Mr Birlings final quote; ‘That was the police. A girl has just died-on her way to the infirmary-after swallowing disinfectant. And a police inspector is on his way here-to ask some-questions.’ shows how the theme power has been developed. It shows that the inspector held all the power, he was able to determine what happened to the second Eva Smith, since the Birlings did not fully accept responsibility the girl died.
Mrs Birlings quote in act 2; ‘she seemed to me not a good case-and so I used my influence to have it refused.’ this quote shows how powerful the capitalist system is and that they only think about themselves. Inspector Goole even appeals to Mrs Birling motherly instinct, ‘You have had children,’ however, Mrs Birling does not budge, and the inspector gets her to admit that she is not sorry.
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Court.louise
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(Original post by mdebrm2009)
How does Priestly develop the themes of ‘Social Responsibility’ and ‘Power’ across the course of the play and how does the genre of the text help the writer show the significance of the two themes? any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks
Think about how Mrs. Berling works in the charity (whatever it is) but doesn't help the girl that died (forgot her name sorry). She didn't want to help those girls, only done this social responsibility to up her social standing and to look better. She denied giving help to a few girls (I think) therefor showing she had some power.
That's just one point you could explore, think about all of the characters and look at their social responsibilities and power - even if it's only slight, like Sheila getting her fired, Mr. Berling also firing her or pushed her to the point she left (again I can't remember exactly), Eric getting her pregnant and his social responsibility being him stealing and giving the money to her/or wanting to (Can't remembered if she accepted it) to help her when the baby came, Gerald.... I have forgot about him really and I done this last year so my memory is a bit hazy. I hope I've helped
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