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Priestly Criticises the Selfishness of People Like Birling, What Methods Does He Use to Present the Selfishness?

  • Date Submitted: 02/09/2013 04:35 AM
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Priestly criticises the selfishness of people like Birling, what methods does he use to present the selfishness?

J.B Priestly who wrote the play ‘An inspector calls’   has created a family named the Birlings who are Middle/Upper class, to represent the selfishness of people who were similar to them in 1912. Throughout the play he uses the Birlings to bring across the moral message, and his view being a socialist that people should be able to feel equal and that no class is better than the other.

The fact that this play is set in 1912, however was written by Priestly in 1945/6 shows that people such as the Birlings continued to be social superior, and have not learnt from past mistakes.

At the beginning of act one, the play is opened with ‘Giving us the port Edna’ from Mr Birling, giving the reader the idea that Mr Birling is wealthy. Priestly has indicated this well due to Birling emphasising that he can afford such luxuries, and also a maid. This then gives the reader the idea that Birling does not care for the working class (such as Edna) as he does not continue to say ‘please’ or ‘Thank you’, as he believes that because of his class he does not have too. Edna is just one of the characters Priestly has used to show just how selfish Mr Birling is. We find that the reader may begin to feel sympathy for Edna and also giving a disliking towards Mr Birling as he gives an appearance of being selfish, and inconsiderate of others.

Throughout the play of ‘The inspector calls’ the Birlings use their name (surname) and status for power, this is first shown in act one when Birling expresses to the inspector that he was ‘An alderman for years, and Lord mayor two years ago’ he finish’s emphasising that he is ‘Still on the bench’. Priestly uses this to highlight that Birling intimidates those who he believes are a lower class to him, however him and the inspector are from the same class, although because of his surname he has more power. Readers may gain more of a...


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