An Inspector Calls Themes 3

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  • Sheila: "but these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people"
    • An Inspector Calls Themes AGE
      • Birling: "the famous younger generation who know it all. and they can't even take a joke"
        • "famous younger generation" is aggressively sarcastic from a father determined to regain authority.
        • The noun "joke" infuriates the audience - the idea that their behaviour can be passed off as a "joke" is disturbing and shows he has learnt nothing.
        • Birling's patronising claim that they "know it all" is ironic. Everything he predicts is wrong - the Inspector and younger generation are indeed correct
      • Eric: "you're beginning to pretend now that nothing's really happened at all. and I can't see it like that"
        • The divide between parents and children is shown in the use of pronouns, with Eric using "you're" compared with "I".
        • The audience feel anger at the speed Mr and Mrs Birling revert to their old ways. The Inspector has been off stage for a few minutes, and although Eva is "still dead" they already see it as "nothing really happened"
        • The verb "pretend" refers to how the entire upper class behaves - they act in a certain way, and then "pretend" it was acceptable behaviour.
    • The noun "people" has associations with community and responsibility to one another. it is the exact opposite of what Birling was saying earlier in the play and shows a growing generation gap between parents and children
    • For the first time Sheila says they "aren't" just that - she recognises they have value as individuals, and younger characters are beginning to see that all people deserve to be treated fairly.
    • The image of "these girls" as "cheap labour" makes them seem like machines, simply a tool for the upper class to use. the plural "girls" shows they have no individual identity.

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