An Inspector Calls- The Younger Generation & Responsibility

Revision cards about:

.The Theme Of Responsibilty

.The Younger Generation

The Younger Generation-Gerald

Gerald is the oldest of the younger generation. He is a "easy, well-bred young man-about-town" who is "rather too manly to be a dandy", which reveals that he is upper class and that he is mature, polite and self-assured with a relaxed manner. 

Gerald:

  • Agrees with Mr.Birling with everything at the beginning of the play
  • Positive he didn't know who Eva Smith was until the Inspector mentioned that she changed her name to Daisy Renton.
  • Brings up that the Inspector is not a real police inspector.

Gerald is portrayed to be a younger version of Mr.Birling- shallow and stubborn. He seems to already be old in his attitudes. Gerald dosen't change much throughout the play. In this way, J.B Priestley is making a criticism of the upper class- that they are set up in their ways and they don't seem to change their attitudes. The same goes to Mr.Birling. 

1 of 7

The Younger Generation- Sheila and Eric

Sheila and Eric Birling are siblings and they are both part of the younger generation.

Sheila:

  • Cared the most about Eva Smith/Daisy Renton
  • Changes the most throughout the play 
  • Her and Eric have the saddest reactions to Eva Smith/Daisy Renton's suicide.

Eric:

  • Is the saddest at the end of the play.
  • Will suffer the most from public hummiliation.
  • Part of the "Younger Generation" which Mr.Birling thinks is wrong.

Sheila and Eric have sympathy for Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.

2 of 7

The Younger Generation- Quotes

Sheila:

"I behaved badly...I'm ashamed of it"

"as if she's been crying"

Eric:

"You lot may be letting yourselves out nicely but I can't. Nor can Mother. We did her in all right"

Sheila and Eric both accept responsibility for what they did whereas Mr. Birling, the older generation says " I can't accept any responsibility". He also states that "the whole thing's different now". This tells us that the older generation are more stubborn, arrogant and less sympathetic. They believe that they are right all the time. However, the younger generation are more caring, sympathetic and they feel responsible for the suicide of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.

3 of 7

Responsibility-The Characters

  • Mr Birling feels that his responsibility is to make a large profit from his business, whether it means treating workers fairly or not. "My duty is to keep labour costs down"
  • Mrs.Birling has massive responsibilites as Brumley Women's Charity Organisation, but she believes that she should only give help to those who deserve it. "We've done a great deal of useful work in helping deserving cases."
  • Sheila realises too late that her social standing as a valued customer brings respnsibilities with it. 
  • Eric has very little responsibility, but he is moved by the Inspectors words.
  • Gerald showed some responsibilities by helping Daisy Renton escape from the palace bar. he provided her to a limited extent, but he disregarded his responsibilities for Sheila. 
4 of 7

Responsibilty-Continued

Social responsibility is the main focus of the Inspector. The Inspector wanted to make the Birling family aware of all the "millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths".

The main focus of responsibility in this play is that which the Birlings and Gerald had responsibility over Eva Smith, and their faliure to take that responsibility decided her fate:

  • Mr.Birling dismissed her from his factory.
  • Sheila had unjustly got her dismissed from Millwards.
  • Eric and Gerald took advantage of how vunlerable she was.
  • Mrs.Birling refused to help her when she most needed it.
5 of 7

Responsibility-Quotes

Mr.Birling gives a speech about responsibility to oneself and one's family:

(solemnly) "But this is the point. I don't want to lecture you two young fellows again. But what so many of you don't seem to understand now, when things are so much easier, is that a man has to make his own way – has to look after himself – and his family too, of course, when he has one – and so long as he does that he won't come to much harm. But the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive – community and all that nonsense. But take my word for it, you youngsters – and I’ve learnt in the good hard school of experience – that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own – and" -

6 of 7

Responsibility-Quotes-Continued

Mrs.Birling states her view on who is to blame for Eva/Daisy's pregnancy.

"secondly, I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have. If, as she said, he didn't belong to her class, and was some drunken young idler, then that's all the more reason why he shouldn't escape. He should be made an example of. If the girl's death is due to anybody, then it's due to him."

The Inspector gives an impassioned speech on responsibility to others.

"But just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they well be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night."

7 of 7

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

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