An Inspector Calls Themes: Social Class

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  • Social Class
    • Priestley designed the characters to put across a message of social responsibility
      • "Giving us the port, Edna?"
      • The fact that the family are able to afford good quality port and have, their own business, means that they must be a wealthy family
      • Unlike people such as Eva Smith, who have to struggle in order to get good wages
    • He challenges views with his own, presenting socialism positively and capitalism/traditonalism negatively
      • "It's better to ask for the world than to take it"
    • Priestley shows the upper class as having a limited sense of social responsibility in order to break the divide
      • "Not if it was just after the holidays. They'd all be broke - if I know them - "
    • Mrs Birling "doesn't recognise Eva's photo. To her, Eva has no identity and doesn't deserve any
      • "Girls of that class"
      • "As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!"
      • "One of the things that prejudiced me against her case"
    • Higher classes didn't question the unfair class system because it worked for them
      • They overlooked unpleasant issues like alcoholism and womanising because it didn't apply to them
      • "He's a notorious womanizer as well as being one of the worst sots and rogues in Brumley - "
      • "But I see no point in mentioning the subject - especially - (indicating Sheila)
    • Birling's biggest concern over Eva's death is that he won't be awarded his knighthood because of the "public scandal"
      • "I must say Sybil, that when this comes out at the inquest, it isn't going to do us much good"
      • "There'll be a public scandal - unless we're lucky - and who here will suffer from that more than I will?"
    • Birling thinks that because he has had positions of authority he is more important
      • "Look at the way he talked to me..he must have known I was an ex-Lord Mayor and a magistrate and so forth"
    • Eric and Sheila were the only ones that challenged this
      • "Why shouldn't they try for higher wages? We try for the highest possible prices"
      • "But they're not cheap labour - they're people
    • Birling uses Gerald to promote his social class
      • "Your father and I have been friendly business rivals for some time now"
      • "There's a very good chance of Knighthood...you might drop a hint to her (his mother)"

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