Context for an inspector calls

View mindmap
  • Context AIC
    • Social Responsibility and Equality
      • Lower-class Characters: Eva and Edna
        • We only see Edna a few times, each for a brief moment.
        • We never meet Eva. We only learn about her through Inspector Goole.
          • We hear all about Eva's life and how she has suffered because of members of the upper middle and upper classes.
          • These people did not care about the consequences their actions may have had for lower-class people.
          • All the characters treat Eva Smith as someone disposable( they can get rid of) and unimportant purely because she is lower-class. They don't think she is worthy of their time or thought
      • Upper-class characters-Gerald and Birlings:
        • Gerald:
          • He highlights the selfish attitudes of the upper class at the time.
          • He pursues a sexual relationship with Eva and treats her as his mistress. He gets rid of her when he has had enough.
            • After Sheila finds out, Gerald still feels that they should get married. This shows his selfish nature.
          • By the end of the play, the audience hopes that Gerald will change his attitude like Sheila and Eric did.
          • But he shows the selfish egotism(self-absorbed attitude) of the upper class when he does not change.
          • Instead, he tries hard to do everything he can to prove that Inspector Goole was fake and that he and the Birlings were completely innocent
        • Mrs Birling:
          • She has a higher social status than her husband.
          • She gently tell him of for his improper(not in line with social status) comments at the dinner table. She sees these as unsuitable dinner conversation.
          • She has position in a charity because it makes her look good.
          • She doesn't like Eva from the start because she pretends her name is Mrs Birling. Mrs Birling thinks this is incredibly offensive( possibly because of Eva's lower-class position ruining her name) and refuses to help her.
        • Eric:
          • He spends his time gambling and drinking too much.
          • Because of his social status, he does not have to work for  living. He lives off his father's money.
          • He is presented as immature, irresponsible little boy for most of the play.
        • Sheila
          • She appears to do little, but has superficial( shallow) interests.
            • Fashion and clothing.
          • She spends her father's money to make herself look the part- her role is to look good so she makes her father and her future husband look good. She is an ornament.
          • She is presented as a spoilt child at first, who uses her social status to get what she wants.
        • Mr Birling:
          • He is pleased about his daughter, marrying into the upper class because it strengthens his ties with Lord and Lady Croft. It also improves his social status.
          • He is keen to be knighted( given a rank of honour by a British king or queen because of his special achievements)and accepted int the upper class.
          • he is worried about possible scandals(morally wrong events) that will stop this happening.
      • Class Tension:
        • Mr and Mrs Birling:
          • J.B.Priestley makes the audience aware that Mrs Birling is actually socially superior to Mr Birling, because her family had a higher social status before she married him.
          • But he is in control of her and his family because he is male in a Patriarchal( male rules) society.
        • Gerald and Sheila:
          • Gerald would also be Sheila's social when they get married because of his gender and wealth.
          • But his mother(Lady Croft) disapproves of Sheila because she is lower class than Gerald Lord and Lady Croft refuse to accept the dinner invitation to celebrate the engagement.
          • The Birlings are happy for Sheila to make this match to someone of a higher social class.
        • Eva Smith:
          • All of the characters feel justified in their mistreatment of Eva Smith because she was from the lower classes.
    • Abuse of power and Corruption
      • Inspector Goole's arrival:
        • The family are enjoying an elaborate meal in opulent(expensive and luxurious)surroundings, with servants attending them. They are a fortunate family enjoying their affluent(rich) lives.
        • Inspector Goole arrives. His presence goes on to show that all of he Birling family(and Gerald) have used their power in immoral ways.
        • Every one of them uses their power negatively to remove power from a lower class girl, who already had very little power to begin with.
      • Mr and Mrs Birling:
        • How these characters used their power to remove power from a lower-class girl:
          • Mr Birling: as the boss of the company, he used his power to get rid of Eva after she led the workers in their fight for a pay rise.
          • Mrs Birling: as a leading person in the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation, she denied Eva financial help.
      • Sheila, Eric and Gerald:
        • How these characters used their power to remove power from a lower class girl:
          • Sheila: she was in a bad mood, she used her family's status and power to have Eva fired from Milward's.
          • Eric: he used physical and emotional power to force his way into Eva's lodgings( where she was staying)-he threatened to cause a scene, which lessen Eva's social power even more.
          • Gerald: he used his social status and money to manipulate( influence someone into doing something) Eva into being his mistress.
      • Societal corruption:
        • Some characters highlight societal corruption( dishonest or morally wrong behaviour)
          • The older Birlings' refuse to accept responsibility for their actions and how they might affect lower class people.
          • Gerald and the Birlings' show how higher-class, wealthy people control society with their money and power.
          • They can destroy the lives of the lower classes on a whim( because of a sudden decision), and never think about them again.
      • Inspector Goole:
        • The author uses Inspector Goole to highlight these attitudes and to show that many higher-class people don't think that their abuse of power is immoral or selfish.
        • They feel that they deserve their wealth and power, and that those of lower classes deserve to be less fortunate.
      • Conflict over corruption:
        • Throughout the play, the characters see the effects of them abusing their power.
          • Sheila and Eric become more and more ashamed of themselves, and their parents' reaction.
          • Their attitudes to their own corruption(dishonest or morally wrong behaviour) causes conflict within the family.
        • Mr and Mrs Birling refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. This causes a rift between them and their children.
    • Socialism Vs Capitalism:
      • Capitalsims:
        • In a capitalist society, a small number of people(the wealthy upper class)invest in, and own, all means of production and distribution.
        • Lower-class people work for them and earn a small amount of money- i.e industry and businesses are privately owned.
        • This often means that a few people in society hold all of the wealth and power.
      • Priestley and socialism:
        • Priestley's views on wars:
          • Priestley suggests that selfish people cause wars.
            • I.e. selfish people who only care about their own success and power, and who do not care about the impact of their own selfish acts.
        • Priestley the socialist:
          • Priestley was a socialist- he believed that people in society should take care of, and look after, one another
          • He believed that wealthy people have a duty to look after poorer people.
          • He believed that we should tax the wealthy more to fund a welfare state.
          • He believed that we should end the class system.
          • Priestley's anti-capitalist message:
            • Priestley had seen the outcome of the World Wars, where so many people had been killed and countries had been left in ruins.
            • He wanted to show his audience that capitalist ideas can cause enormous problems.
            • He also wanted to show people that society needed to change. people needed to care more for one another.
            • People also needed to end their obsessions with self- importance, power and welath.
      • Socialism and Characters:
        • Mr Birling:
          • Throughout the play, Mr Birling is made to look like an idiot(meaning the upper-classes look like idiots) because his obsession with capitalist ideas.
          • Priestley uses dramatic irony(when the audience know something characters don't)to make Birling look foolish.
            • Birling says the Titanic would never sink and that there would never be a war.
        • Birlings and Gerald:
          • Priestley uses the Birlings and Gerald to highlight the unfairness in a capitalist society.
          • He uses the story of Eva Smith to show how selfish, capitalist attitudes can hurt individual people.
    • Blames and responsibility:
      • Characters:
        • The Birlings:
          • Priestley uses Mr and Mrs Birling to highlight the belief that lower-class people deserve their misfortunate, and that upper-class people are entitled to fortune, wealth and easy lifestyle.
    • characterisation of women:
      • social roles:
        • Mrs Birling's main roles in society(and in the play) are to dress well, to make her husband look good, and sit on the board of charity.
        • She does this so she can look giving and charitable-again, this makes both her and her husband look good.
      • female submission:
        • Although Mrs Birling is of a higher class than Mr Birling, she is submissive to him because she is a female.
        • She scolds gently. But ultimately, he has the power in the family because he is male.
      • Forgiving Gerald:
        • Sheila:
          • At the end of the story, Sheila is encourage to marry Gerald even though he's had an affair.
          • People don't' think his transgression is that serious people don't think that Eva is an important factor.
          • Mrs Birling seems to think that Gerald should be forgiven because he is a man who was having fun.
      • Sheila's engagment:
        • At the start of the play, Sheila only feels properly engaged to Gerald when he gives her the ring.
        • Her role is to be decorative for him, bear his children, and make him look good.
    • Dramatic function of Inspector Goole and others:
      • Inspector Goole:
        • He is the hero of the. story.
        • He tells the character of their misdeeds.
        • He encourages them to change their ways and become better people.
      • Older Birligns and Gerald:
        • Neither Gerald nor the older Birlings accept any responsibility for Eva's death, even after they're told the consequences of their actions.
        • Both also refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoings.
        • The audience cannot be sure that Mr Birling, Mrs Birling and Gerald won't repeat these actions in the future.
        • They could be called 'antagonists' because they seem to cause problems in the text and stand in the way of the Inspector's attempts to make wrongs right.
      • Accept responsibility:
        • Despite their evil actions, they become more likeable because they accept responsibility.
        • They also encourage their parents to do so.
      • Mature:
        • We feel that Sheila and Eric have learnt something from the experience.
        • They begin as spoilt, self- indulgent and irresponsible children. But, because of Inspector Goole's stepping in, they change and become more mature young adults.
        • The audience trusts that Sheila and Eric will not make the same mistakes again.
      • Agents of change:
        • We might see them as agents of change in the play because they help to change attitudes, even if their views aren't taken up by the older character.
      • Sheila and Eric vs older Birlings and Gerald:
        • Sheila and Eric act as foils for the older Birlings and Gerald.
        • They start the play as very similar characters, and change and develop into caring people who accept responsibility.
        • Their parents and Gerald do not.
      • Inspector Goole vs Mr Birling:
        • Inspector Goole is a foil for Mr Birling- he is a fair, responsible character who cares about the welfare of others.
        • Mr Birling is egoistical, selfish and actively dislikes the lower class.
      • Eva Smith vs upper classes:
        • Eva Smith acts as a foil for the upper classes.
        • She contrasts with them by her life experience and the hoplessness she faces.

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all An Inspector Calls resources »