Is it possible that anyone could give me a mark out of 34 for my essay and any feedback to improve it. The question is ' How does inequality lead to tragedy in AIC'
In the didactic play ‘An Inspector Calls,’ Priestley implies societal inequality caused by capitalist patriarchal driven men leads to society's tragedy. The Inspector’s final warning of “fire, and blood and anguish”, warns the audience that if they do not change their attitudes and ideologies then destruction will occur.
Priestley highlights that the patriarchal society driven by capitalist men like Birling and Gerald is what leads to society’s downfall as Sheila is not enabled to benefit and act upon the Inspector’s lesson. At the beginning of the play, when Sheila begins to “tease” Gerald for abandoning her in the summer, Mrs Birling responds by telling Sheila to get used to it “just as [she] had.” The past verb “had” suggests that perhaps Arthur Birling may have mistreated Sybil at the beginning of their relationships by possibly having multiple affairs with women, therefore not having enough time with Sybil. During the Edwardian society, women relied on men to maintain their high social position and so would marry to gain any sort of social independence from their parents due to the patriarchal society. However, even though Sheila initially appears to accept Gerald’s infidelity, grateful he was “honest about it”, Priestley uses the play’s structure interestingly to show change in the Sheila’s attitudes and by Act 3 she rejects the ring, which symbolises her rejecting to be a submissive wife to Gerald who would abide by the stringent rules of the patriarchal society and become capitalist and prejudiced towards the working class, just like Sybil. Although Sheila “(returns the ring)” implying that she is prepared to act in creating a more socialist society, in 1912 women did not have the vote or any influence in political decisions so Sheila would soon realise that she is powerless to have any effect on society, and this is the tragedy of the play. The character who endorses the Inspector’s lesson the most is powerless to change society, and this tragedy caused by the power of capitalist men during this era.
Furthermore, Priestley suggests that a society run by capitalist men such as Mr Birling and the Crofts is one which will only face tragedy and destruction. The Inspector warns of “fire and blood and anguish” if the Birlings of society fail to learn the Inspector’s lesson. Priestley uses the Inspector who is his proxy in the play to highlight that it is the fault of arrogant businessmen like Birling and the ruling classes who lead the country into war to gain profit through creating machinery and clothing. These Birlings of society profited from the deaths of “millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths” and allowed their lives to be taken away for the sake of profit. The second death of Eva at the end of the play due to Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald refusing to learn their lesson is symbolic of the second world war which occurred due to these capitalists who yearned to make money from war a second time, thus leading the country into even more destruction. Priestley highlights that inequality caused by capitalism in society will only lead to “anguish” and war as the Conservative party is still in charge. Priestley suggests that the only way to prevent Britain from heading into a third world war is by voting for Labour in the 1945 elections and creating a socialist government.
Capitalism is inherently unequal as it encourages the richest of society to hoard their wealth and abuse and use the poor for profit and business growth, refusing to help them entirely. This leads to tragedy and is mirrored by the ending of the play. The play ends with the family rejecting the inspector’s lesson and regressing to their capitalist views, until they are interrupted by the “(sharp ring of the doorbell)” and “(stare guiltily)” towards the end with the realisation that a police inspector is arriving, stuck in a never-ending cycle of punishment. This mirrors the story of Adam and Eve who were exiled from the Garden of Eden for eating the apple by the influence of the devil and were given free will by God. Much like the story of Adam and Eve, the Birlings represent Adam and Eve who have the free will to either listen to or ignore the Inspector’s lesson, yet they choose to ignore it by the influence of the devil- Capitalism. Priestley is clearly warning his audience that by allowing inequality, or capitalism, to dominate society through a Conservative government, it will only lead to a continuous cycle of punishment which can only be broken in one way- voting for a socialist society.
To conclude, Priestley highlights that inequality through capitalism is the main reason for tragedy in society. Although the Birlings have failed to learn their lesson, it is now the 1945 and the modern-day audience’s duty and responsibility to carry out the Inspector’s message by voting for a socialist government, which would avoid war and inequality, preventing further tragedies from happening in society.