Priestley introduces the characters of Sheila and Eva in order to show his audience the contrast between the working and upper-middle classes. Explore, in detail how Mr. and Mrs.
Birling’s attitudes to both girls and highlight there differences Introduction: “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and then there are families” as quoted by Margaret Thatcher in a copy of Women’s Own in 1987.It could be suggested that this comment made by Thatcher has some significance to the play because her Capitalist opinion somewhat echoes that of Mr. Birling’s in the play. It could be suggested that as Priestly wrote An Inspector Calls in 1945 (though set in 1912), that society’s issues at the time could be shown somehow through the characters. In 1945 there was an outbreak of strikes throughout many different industries, which may have affected the way in which Priestly wrote the character of Mr. Birling in the play.
Through Mr. Birling evidently, there was a way in which Priestly could mirror the society he was a part of at the time.The play opens with a family called the Birling’s celebrating the engagement of Shelia Birling and Gerald Croft. This is also shown through the stage directions allowing the reader to feel a sense of the atmosphere and a sense of how the family live, which is imperitive to the play’s message. During these celebrations an inspector arrives called Inspector Goole who interrogates the family about a girl called Eva Smith who apparently died after drinking a bottle of disinfectant.The presumption from the Inspector is the belief everyone played a part in her death.
Throughout the play and as the pat is uncovered the reader learns to find that Mr. Birling dismissed Eva from his company due to the fact that she apparently lead a strike as the pay salary herself and colleagues were receiving was not good enough. Shelia it was later discovered got Eva dismissed from Milwards for her paranoid belief that Eva was in fact highly amused at the sight of the dress Shelia was wearing.This clearly shows the power over the lower classes at the time the play was written, and enabling Priestly to show this through satire. Ironically it is later unfolded that Gerald had an affair with Eva whilst he was courting no one other than Shelia. It also needs to be commented upon that Eric saw her in a bar and used her as his mistress. Mrs. Birling the denied her help at the Brumley’s Woman’s charity.
We find out that everyone in the Birling family played a part in Eva/Daisy death and life. After the interrogation the inspector leaves the family, and as time passes the family find the inspector was a hoax and none of the allegations were in fact true. The family proceeded to ring the infirmary and asked whether there was such death like the one the inspector called regarding.
To the family’s astonishment they later receive a phone call form the infirmary to be informed that; “A girl has been brought in dead by drinking a bottle of disinfectant and that a Inspector will be on his way around to ask some questions”Uses of the class system throughout the play: During the period of time this play was set, in 1912, the particular type of society at this time is believed to have had a capitalist point of view. Some believe Priestley compares the major facts of this period of time (1912) and incorporated these into the play, for example the relationship between the employees and people of higher society were almost non existent largely due to the fact that people from the higher classes believed that the ‘lower classes’ were there to serve. This is shown by Mr. Birling as he did not initially know who Eva/Daisy was as her employer until she began the protest for wages. It could be suggested that Mr. Birling only wants to be in company with those who he feels is on an equal level with himself and family for example monetary wise and of course.An assumption could be the only reason why Mr.
Birling wants Gerald Croft to marry his daughter (Shelia) is because he wants Gerald to expand his business and combine it with Birling ; co to Birling’s & croft’s ltd to become more powerful. Croft would also be an acceptable Son in law with regard to his social standing in society, and even raise the profile of his family. For example if Shelia had fallen in love with an individual that was of lower social standing she would not be able to marry as it would put the family to disgrace.In this period of time social status was such a very important issue as it was almost a competition of who could be more aristocratic and wealthy. I think this shows in Mr. Birling character because he seems to feel a little manipulated by Lord And Lady Croft (Gerald croft’s parents) because he is always trying to make himself sound just as important as they are in a way he is scared of them Wages in 1912: Working class: In 1912 the average wage for the working class was the budget of ï¿½1.
12 a week which was mainly spent on necessities such as food, electricity; rent ect… which left little money for the luxuries due to the main person that brings in the money need to have a lot of food due to loads of shifts. Middle to upper class: The average wage for the middle to upper class person was ï¿½5.
75 a week. Which was able to buy rent for a big house, hire of a nanny and a butler, food ect… After spending on the necessities there were quite a lot of money for luxuries.