An Inspector Calls Themes~family life

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  • An Inspector Calls Themes (familylife)
    • There were expectations within a family structure during 1912
    • At the start of the play Gerald believes that the Birlings are a "nice well-behaved family". but Gerald and the audience soon discover that they have murky secrets that lay beneath their facade of perfection.
      • By the end of the play the parents no longer have authority over the children
      • Eric claims his mother doesn't "understand anything"
    • Family members were expected to know their role and be content with it- the parents were in charge and their children were expected to be obedient and unquestioning.
    • men from the wealthy upper class were expected to: work to support their 'perfect' family/ protect women (especially their wives and daughters)
    • women from the wealthy upper class were expected to marry into money so that they didn't have to work and also to plan parties, visit friends and have children. they did not do cooking or cleaning
    • However working-class families and especially working-class women had very different roles.
    • many lower working class families had jobs in factories or worked as servants for the upper class.
    • The Birling family gives of a facade of polite and polished behaviour
    • The gender roles are very defined within this particular family, for example the women 'withdraw' to allow the men to talk about 'male' topics.
      • The family is a mess by the end of the play.
    • despite alll formalities kept within this 'perfect' family there is trouble lurking beneath the surface - Mrs Birling corrects her family's social behaviour
    • Arthur Birling wants to complement the cook on a "very nice" meal- however Sybil claims that he should not say such things as she works for them and they are of a lower class.
    • The clear hierarchy within this family as presented at the beginning is destroyed by the inspectors visit.
    • Without their parents influence Sheila and Eric can think for themselves, when they make their on decisions not based on their parents views they defy the typical roles within the family structure.
    • Because of the inspectors visit Sheila doesn't know if she is going to marry Gerald because of the affair- however if her father had a say he would force her to because of the power he would gain from their relationship
    • Sheila and Eric refuse to "go on behaving just as we did" after the inspector leaves

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