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An Inspector Calls

  • Date Submitted: 11/29/2015 09:22 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 57.3 
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How Successful is the idea of collective responsibility explored in this play, through the use of the inspector?

In the play an inspector calls the main theme is responsibility. It is used throughout the play mainly by the inspector, he utilizes collective responsibility in a manipulative way towards each character. Priestly gets the inspector to make the family see the errors of their ways and become more responsible for their actions as individuals and collectively. As the play unfolds we understand that each character has something to do with Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.

Birling hired Eva at his factory, she asked for a pay rise but Mr Birling would not give it to her. Gerald believed this was perfectly fine, his view was that she was causing trouble. Eric on the other hand disagreed with his father's decision explaining “She only wanted a little more money to live on”. However Mr Birling was having none of it, so he discharged her. “Well, it's my duty to keep labour costs down, and if I'd agreed to this demand for a new rate we'd have added twelve percent to our labour costs.” He did not believe that Eva’s death had anything to do with him or his family until the play unfolded, but even then he could not take blame for his part in the tragedy.
Mrs Birling is a rather cold woman and her husband's social superior. She is hypocritical about the responsibilities of the father of the child until she finds out that it’s Eric – and about Gerald’s “disgusting affair” which she’s prepared to forget about once the danger appears to be past. She determinedly refuses to accept that this decision could have led the young woman’s suicide; it’s only when she realises that her actions could possibly have led to the death of her grandchild that she begins to show the slightest sign of emotion. However, once the Inspector has gone this is forgotten, once again highlighting how cold and unfeeling she is.
Throughout the play Sheila Birling develops a social conscience and...

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