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GCSE English Literature AQA: Can someone mark my English literature essay? Thanks!

How does Priestley explore responsibility in An Inspector Calls?
Write about:
The ideas about responsibility in An Inspector Calls
How Priestley presents these ideas by the ways he writes.
[30 marks] AO4 [4 marks]
Priestley uses the personal beliefs of the Birlings to incorporate ideas on responsibility and how this affects each character in the play. Priestley also intertwines his own personal political beliefs to show how change is brought about in Edwardian England. Priestley makes it very clear in the play as to whom upholds responsibility, and how some characters only uphold individual responsibility (Priestley demonstrates two types, collective responsibility, and individual responsibility).
At the beginning of the play, Sheila demonstrates how she is still very much under the control of her parents, despite being a young adult. She uses the diminutive ‘mummy’ to show how she continues to be controlled by her parents and in fact has no real responsibility of her own. As a woman, she completely relies upon the males of her family to keep her happy and safe. Alternatively, as well as a theme of responsibility, Priestley also includes the theme of gender and shows how in fact Sheila seems very much restricted from the outside world. To the audience, Sheila seems like an innocent figure and very fragile, much like the representation of a woman in the early 1900s.
Further into the play, when inspector Goole arrives and explains as to why he is at the Birling residence, Mr Birling quite obviously shows no sign of remorse. Mr Birling immediately dismisses the situation and labels it as ‘horrid business’ in a short declarative sentence. The fact that he sees the whole incident as a matter of ‘business’ immediately displays the low level of remorse he feels for the individual who lost their life. And because he displays so in a short declarative sentence shows how he wants the conversation to end, almost as if it has nothing to do with him, or he does not want to be associated with it as such. Furthermore, he sees the business as ‘horrid’ which further shows how he feels no remorse for the deceased, and does not almost want to feel remorse. This is quite clearly due to the fact that Mr Birling feels he has no responsibility over this case which is why he almost immediately dismisses it. This can be seen as a representation of how the older generations stayed true to their capitalist beliefs and continued to only believe in individual responsibility.
However, Eric displays a completely different reaction towards the death of Eva Smith as he involuntarily expresses, ‘oh my god!’ This shows how Eric felt a sense of sympathy towards the situation and is clearly disheartened and feels sorry for the way the individual was led to death. To add to this, Eric’s action was not voluntary, so this shows that in fact it was his immediate reaction without conveying any sense of thought. This emphasises the difference between the younger generations and the older generations. The younger generations clearly feel a sense of remorse and display the feeling of collective responsibility, and how it takes society to work together for society to improve. This suggests how Priestley intertwines his own personal political beliefs, because the idea of collective responsibility comes from the political belief of socialism: Priestley was brought up a socialist and grew up around his fathers socialist circle.
Mr Birling completely admits to the fact that he ‘can’t accept any responsibility’. This shows how Mr Birling refuses to see how he could be involved in a situation and refuses to accept any collective responsibility. He very clearly demonstrates capitalist beliefs as he refuses to see how he could be involved in this incident. He also shows an element of ignorance as despite the fact that Eva was working in his company, and the fact that he dismissed her, he continues to show any sort of responsibility and any interest as to why Eva has committed suicide.
Sheila, has a similar reaction to Eric and displays a sense of shock. Sheila exclaims as to how the incident is ‘horrible!’ Sheila also begins questioning as to how it happened and details on Eva herself, so Sheila clearly demonstrates some sort of interest in this case and is in fact willing to see how she is involved herself: the idea of collective responsibility. Priestley uses the younger generations to show how collective responsibility can be achieved, only if the older generations change. As the play grows and the inspector demonstrates to Sheila how she is involved in the incident, Sheila accepts her involvement and says to the Inspector ‘It was my own fault’. She shows how she accepts her responsibility and feels remorse for what she has done or potentially caused. Sheila clearly wants to change and accepts her involvement to change and better herself, as well as society.
Towards the end of the play, it is revealed by Gerald that the Inspector was not actually a real inspector. This immediately excites Mr Birling and Mrs Birling, because they would not want such a scandal to appear outside and into society. However, this then shows how in fact Mr and Mrs Birling did not learn much from the inspector and did not take up any of his advice demonstrating how in fact they had not taken up any sort of responsibility, they had put on a front with the pressure the inspector placed on them. This then allows the audience to denote the differences between the younger generations and the older generations, because Sheila’s reaction was ‘I suppose we’re all nice people now’. This shows and emphasises how Sheila actually learns a moral lesson and thinks about her actions and has clearly began working to change herself, as an individual, which would hopefully have an impact on society as a whole.

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