an inspector calls themes - social class

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  • An Inspector Calls Themes (social class)
    • Class influences the Birlings' behaviour and causes them to treat people differently. the class system had existed for a long time and Priestley didn't agree with it
    • priestley designed their characters to put across his message- the message is about socal responsibility.
    • Priestley wants to challenge the class hierarchy
    • Eva Smith represented the working class (had the hardest jobs with the smallest pay), she struggles with life, doing tough jobs earning just enough to survive.
    • The birling represent middle class (owned factories or were professionals) they earned a lot of money and had control within society
    • Gerald represents the upper class (inherits lots of land and money, usually lords and ladies). he is seen as socially having a higher status than the birlings
    • Preistley portrays the upper classes as having limited sense of social responsibility, they either DON'T KNOW, DIDN'T WANT TO KNOW OR DIDN'T CARE.
    • The class system could make life difficult for those lower down.
    • Mrs Birling claims not to recognise Eva smith photo. for her Eva has no identity.
    • Priestley suggested that the higher classes didnt question the way the system worked because they lived comfortable lives.
      • The inspector tells the Birlings that they must accept that everyone should take responsibility for their actions, no matter of their social image or status
        • Priestley uses the play to expose the immorality of the ruling classes.
          • The birlings behaviour was supposedly streotypical for the ruling families in 1912.
    • when the Birlings find out about Evas suicide and their parts that they played all Arthur cares about is the "public scandal" they may face as this would jeopardise his knighthood.
    • birling believes that his position of authority gives him permission to act however he feels is right- priestley wanted to highlight the people in charge and how they acted so immorally
    • Birling liked to believe that the authority gave him permission to judge others but not his own actions.
      • Birling uses Gerald to promote his social class as he is marrying his daughter, this will give aurthur recognition and power within society
        • priestley thought class shouldnt matter.
    • mrs birling is involved in a womens charity organisation who are supposed to help women who are in trouble however sybil is only involved because of her social staus.
    • eva was expected to have low morals but she refuses money even when shes desperate and so this can be seen as honourable which would have suprised the audience.
  • priestley wants to show how we should be judged by our actions and not by what class rules, this contrasts with what the birlings believe


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