Please mark this out of 20 for SQA national 5 English
An Inspector Calls, written by J.B. Priestley, is a play set in 1912 that deals with the themes of social responsibility, guilt, and the consequences of actions. The play revolves around the Birling family and a mysterious Inspector who arrives at their house to investigate the death of a young woman. In this essay, I will be discussing how Priestley deals with the theme of social responsibility through the character of Inspector Goole, the use of dramatic irony, and the symbolism of the Inspector's name.
The character of Inspector Goole is used by Priestley to convey the importance of social responsibility. The Inspector represents a moral authority figure who exposes the Birling family's wrongdoings and forces them to confront the consequences of their actions. He is described as having a "massiveness, solidity, and purposefulness" which makes him an imposing figure, embodying the seriousness of the issue of social responsibility. When he first arrives, he states that "we are responsible for each other," which sets the tone for the rest of the play. This idea of collective responsibility is reiterated throughout the play as the Inspector uncovers the Birling family's involvement in the death of Eva Smith. The Inspector's final speech, in which he tells the Birlings that "if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish," reinforces the importance of social responsibility and the consequences of ignoring it.
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Dramatic irony is used by Priestley to highlight the Birling family's lack of social responsibility. Throughout the play, the audience is aware of the impending disaster that the Birlings are unknowingly heading towards. This is exemplified through Mr. Birling's speeches about the future and his belief that "there isn't a chance of war" and "a man has to make his own way." The audience knows, however, that the First World War is imminent and that Mr. Birling's capitalist values are about to be challenged. The use of dramatic irony in this way creates tension and emphasizes the importance of social responsibility. The audience is aware of the consequences of ignoring social responsibility, and the characters are not.
Symbolism is used by Priestley to give meaning to the character of Inspector Goole. The Inspector's name is symbolic, as the word "goole" is a slang term for a spirit or ghost. This links to the idea that the Inspector is not a real police officer but a supernatural figure who has arrived to expose the Birling family's wrongdoings. This idea is reinforced by the Inspector's ability to predict events, such as the arrival of a second Inspector, and his knowledge of the Birling family's involvement in Eva Smith's death. The Inspector's ghostly appearance and supernatural abilities give him an air of authority and make him a powerful symbol of social responsibility.
In conclusion, J.B. Priestley uses a variety of techniques to explore the theme of social responsibility in An Inspector Calls. The character of Inspector Goole serves as a moral authority figure who exposes the Birling family's wrongdoings and forces them to confront the consequences of their actions. Dramatic irony is used to create tension and emphasize the importance of social responsibility, while symbolism is used to give meaning to the character of Inspector Goole. The play's message is clear: we are all responsible for each other, and the consequences of our actions have far-reaching effects. An Inspector Calls is a powerful reminder of the importance of social responsibility and the need to consider the consequences of our actions.