Key Themes in Inspector Calls

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  • Key Themes in An Inspector Calls
    • Guilt
      • all of the characters must learn to come to term with their guilt and what they have done
        • the Inspector wants them to realise what they have done to the girl individually
      • Inspector appears to be a socialist - everyone looks out for eachother and try to avoid harming eachother
      • Sheila is the most willing to accept responsibility and feels the most guilty at the end
    • Generation Divide
      • at the end of the novel, Mr Birling, Mrs Birling and Gerald's opinions on everything remain unswayed and the Inspector's words didn't appear to change them at all
      • Eric and Sheila learn that they have done things wrong and therefore start to share the same opinion on the world as the Inspector
      • the divide between the generations shows the changing opinions of the time - shows optimism of the future
      • "Why, you hysterical young fool - get back - or I'll -" - Mr Birling to Eric
    • Mental Health / Suicide
      • countries - Inspector warns that countries will fail and 'commit suicide'
      • all of society rejected Eva Smith so she felt lonely and she had no family
      • Eva Smith ultimately ended her life after all of her suffering, whether it was actually the same girl that everyone hurt or not, we still learn at the end that a girl commited suicide by drinking disenfectant
    • Learning
      • the Inspector appears to already know what the characters have done - he wants them to admit it and learn what they have done wrong
      • all of the characters have a different reaction to the lessons they have learned
        • Sheila - knows that she was wrong
          • Gerald - doesn't appear to regret the affair with Daisy/Eva
      • the Inspector's main objective seems to be to teach them
      • "It's better to ask for the earth than to take it."
    • Class
      • Eva Smith was part of the lower class and she was fired by multiple members of the higher class
      • Mr and Mrs Birling confirm very much to the higher class attitudes of the time but towards the end of the novel Sheila and Eric are beginning to realise the faults in this
      • the power that the higher classes have is much more significant than the power that the lower classes have
        • Mrs Birling denies Eva/Daisy help
        • Mr Birling denies Eva/Daisy and the rest of the workers a higher pay
    • Social Responsibility
      • the characters in the play begin to learn that they are responsible for not just themselves, but others around them. however, the older generation do not accept this and take it into their life
      • socialist views vs capitalist views
      • Inspector tries to get the characters in the novel to see the way he sees
    • Gender
      • Mr Birling has a very stereotypical view of women
        • "...not only something to make 'em look prettier - but - well, a sort of sign or token of their self-respect."
      • even the women can be as cruel to the girls as the men are
      • women are patronised
        • 'unpleasant' and 'disturbing' things - protected against, Gerald
  • Gerald makes very superficial comments about the women at the bar
    • "I hate those hard-eyed dough-faced women."
  • "She was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl in her position." - Mrs Birling

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