The Role Of Socialism In An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls is a play written by Dramatist J.B Priestley in 1945. Priestley was a left-wing socialist and this was one of the factors which influenced him to write this play. Even though the play was written in 1945, it was actually set in 1912, right before the start of the First World War. It is set in the spring of 1912 at the Brumley home of the Birlings, a prosperous industrial family in the North Midlands, getting involved in the death of a woman named Eva Smith. The Inspector uses his unusual methods to interrogate each member of the family as they all had a part in her death. Priestley has a strong desire for social change and to present his socialist views, therefore he uses the Inspector as a ‘figure’ to convey his message. …show more content…
The two sides of Capitalism and Socialism play the roles of an antagonist and a protagonist. The inspector being the driving force of Socialism, clearly going against Mr Birling's capitalist views and strongly suggesting on the idea that ‘people should look after each other’.The fact that the story was written in 1945 correlates with the fact that in 1945 right after the Second World War, there was a shift in governments and the British Government became a socialist government with Clement Attlee being the Prime Minister. Priestley’s involvement with the then government brought the birth of the ‘Welfare State’. Priestley was a strong idealist as he turned down an honour in 1965 and an invitation to be made a Companion of Honour in 1969. In overall context Priestley uses the Inspector as “moral tool” to express his views on socialism and how our wrongdoings effect everybody around us, and that if we don't learn that lesson, we will have to face the consequences one way or the …show more content…
The Inspector is the moral tool to the play, the Birlings’ apart from Sheila and Eric, seem to be dodging the responsibility of their actions. This is also an area which showcases the differences between the youth and the old; the younger generation seems to take responsibility for their actions and willing to face the consequences. Priestley is also interested collective responsibility, looking after one another in society. Priestley explores the effect of age, class and sex on people's attitude towards responsibility. This gives the audience the thought of how every life is important in this world and that it is our moral duty to make sure we are responsible for our wrongdoings. The dramatic irony in the play is quite strong especially when Arthur Birling talks about the Titanic, “..New York in five days - and every luxury - and unsinkable - absolutely unsinkable” (p.7), while the audience knows what happened to the Titanic. Dramatic irony is also included when Arthur Birling talks about the war, “The Germans don't want war. Nobody wants war..” (p.6). These phrases also highlight Arthur Birling's massive ego and that he is sure that the things he say will happen. Arthur’s comments about socialism and community explicitly show that he, himself is a ‘capitalist’ and society means absolutely nothing to him. LIGHTING STAGE DIR, GENRE

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