The two World Wars

Priestley wrote the play just after the Second World War because it was a time when people were meant to be unifying and sharing the very little resources left. He was telling his audience of 1945 (mostly upper class citizens because only they could afford to watch a play at a time of poverty) that the desire for infallibility caused the “fire blood and anguish” of the two World Wars. He was showing us that the governments were depriving people of their money and instead of spending it on society they invested it on wars and weapons (i.e. Nuclear Bombs).

In the process the rich got richer with their firms making contracts to supply goods to the government and the poor got poorer being treated as mere possessions existing only to serve. This is the idea behind social stratification in society. This way the elite (the rich) stayed at the top of the social ladder and the poor had only dreams of becoming one of the elite. Priestley portrays each character in the play as a stereotypical representation of a certain social class and certain generation.

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Mrs Birling is described as a cold unsympathetic upper class woman who is the chairwomen of the “Brumley Woman’s charity Organisation” and yet she doesn’t seem to care about the lower class, as can be seen from this example: Birling: Well, well – this is a very nice. Very nice. Good dinner too, Sybil. Tell cook for me. Mrs B: (reproachfully) Arthur, you’re not supposed to say such things. This shows that Mr Birling (middle class) recognises the fact that the cook (lower class) has done/cooked something good.

But Mrs Birling (upper class) thinks that the poor should never be congratulated and never be validated for their work. According to Mrs Birling the poor are nothing more than the dirt on the bottom of her shoes. Mr Birling is described as the middle class man who speaks in a pompous manner, owns a factory and does paperwork. He is sexist in his attitudes in dealing with people and he tends to preach at his family.

Because he had said that he fired Eva smith only because she wanted a pay rise. He later goes on to say that “Well it’s my duty to keep labour cost down, and if… ” Which means he kept the girls at his factory only to serve as cheap labour and nothing else. He was defining the meaning of Human rights. Eva Smith is the lower class woman who has been neglected, abandoned and tortured with the fear of having no money to support her unborn baby.