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The Portraits Of The Characters In An Inspector Calls

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As an Inspector Calls was written after World War Two, most men went away to fight during the war, so many jobs that were traditionally performed by men, had to be filled in by women. This switch in roles enabled everyone to see that women were equally as capable as men. It helped to change the existing perceptions about what a woman can and can’t do. Consequently, many women experienced a new kind of independence that working and therefore earning money allowed them to entail. Yet, unfortunately, not all men were accepting of this new change in gender equality and continued to remain firmly in the beliefs about the capabilities that women have from the past. In an Inspector Calls Priestley develops ideas of gender roles through the freedom and individuality of Eva Smith and the sexist views of Mr Birling.

Before World War Two, Britain was not only divided by gender but also by class. The Upper and Middle classes were filled with capitalists, people who owned wealthy land and large successful businesses, whereas the lower/working class consisted of the poor workers that were treated with little or no respect by the upper classes. The war meant that these three classes had to unite together as all classes were eating the same food and were even having to dress the same due to rationing. Yet, the divide was still evident so Priestly wanted to emphasise the inequality and differences that still existed between the upper and lower classes.

Sybil begins to dig herself deeper when she speaks about how all the blame should be going to Eva and the man who got her pregnant. For example, in the quote “, I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have. If, as she said, he did not belong to her class.” This shows how she has not joined the dots that it is her own son she is talking about. She lacks common sense and sympathy as she just cannot seem to accept that she might actually play a part in the death of an innocent girl that she could have helped. She doesn’t care even now that she could have saved her life, all due to the fact that the man that got her pregnant was from a higher class and she did not have a husband. She did not believe a single word that came out of Eva’s mouth, as she “didn’t like her manner,” she is assuming that everything Eva says is “a whole lot of silly nonsense,” before she even knows Eva as she has trained her mind to think that anything Eva will say is stupid and false.

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The quote, “And he ought to be dealt with very severely- “shows that Mrs Birling has not yet worked out that it is Eric that needs to be dealt with very severely, she full on drops Eric under the bus. These words that she has said will brutally haunt her later when she finally realises that she is talking about Eric. In some ways this quote uses foreshadowing as we can know purely by the way the play is written and the reactions of the other family members that it was Eric that got Eva pregnant, so by her saying this it creates a tense atmosphere within the audience and readers.

From an audience’s point of view Mrs. Birling fully deserves the consequences and ridicules that will eventually come her way. Mrs. Birlings actions really help to engage the audience in what Priestley is trying to convey through ‘An Inspector Calls’ as we see that her actions are cruel and ignorant and this is something that we all -hopefully- don’t want to be. Priestley is trying to get to all be responsible for our own actions and how they can and will affect other people, whether is directly or not. Mrs. Birling almost adds a comedic value to this part of the play as it is so obvious to the audience and readers that she is talking about Eric, that it is almost painful and unbearable to watch/read. Mrs. Birling also really helps to add a dramatic tone and atmosphere to the play as the tension changes when she repetitively puts all of the blame on other people, its almost like she is happy that Eva is dead, she talks that she spoke nonsense and was silly so to her it might not be so bad that she is dead; which is horrible and extremely capitalist of her.

This quote shows that she is shocked after finding out that it was her own son that got Eva pregnant. It also shows naivety as she is so surprised to hear this news. ‘I won’t believe it’ demonstrates that she is so stubborn, no one could really change her capitalistic views, not even the death of a girl that her and her family help create. You can tell that she feels very disappointed in her son from the way she pauses in the middle of the sentence; confirmed by the ellipses. She is unwilling to believe her son’s involvement with the girl and this distress is expressed as denial.

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The Portraits Of The Characters In An Inspector Calls. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from
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