When we first meet the Brings in Act 1, everything seems calm and they look eke a perfect family. However, nearer the end the family gets left behind in a mess after the Inspector leaves. At the start Gerald says ‘You seem to be a nice well-behaved family’ and Birding replies We think we rag. These lines are the first of dramatic irony Priestley uses: the last thing the Brings have been is well-behaved. Everyone blames each other for all this which shows that they are no longer the polite and polished family they were pretending to be in Act 1 .
The audience will later realize that the hierarchy at the beginning is destroyed after the Inspector’s investigation. Moreover, these lines also suggest the alliance between Gerald and Birding, two men who share the same values. Furthermore, we can see the conflict within the family as the children (Sheila and Eric) can think for themselves now without their parents’ influence. This can be seen where Sheila tells her father ‘Don’t interfere, please, Father. Gerald knows what I mean, and you apparently don’t. ‘ when he tries to defend Garage’s actions.
This perhaps suggests that Sheila doesn’t know whether she wants to marry Gerald anymore. She doesn’t want her father to get involved in this because he would care more about his business than her fife so Sheila wants to make the decision. Additionally, we can see their family falling apart when Eric says his mother doesn’t “understand anything” and that Mr. Birding is “not the kind of father a chap could go to” for help. This portrays the Brings as not only hard hearted towards the working class but also as inadequate parents. It is also noticed that the parents no longer have any authority over their children.
Birding considers his son as spoilt and is more worried about the scandals this issue is going to cause. This implies that their family was held together by lies and when the truth has finally been valued their family was shattered. There’s hatred, jealousy, theft, prostitutes and even being responsible for the death of their own grandchild involved in this family issue. Priestley presents the conflict between the working and upper class in the early 1 sass. This conflict can clearly be seen between the Inspector who thinks everyone is responsible for others actions and Mrs. Birding who seems to think class is all that matters.
Mrs. Birding says to the Inspector ‘… My husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago and that he’s still a magistrate’. Mrs. Birding is also a leading member of the Brimley Women’s Charity Organization and is only involved for the social status. Mrs. Birding says this to the Inspector because he is not upper class and she doesn’t expect someone lower than her in status to speak to her family like this depicting the feudal attitudes that existed during those times. This quotes shows that Mr. and Mrs. Birding seem to think his positions of authority makes him very important so she can do anything.
Priestley has very purposefully made Mr. Birding the magistrate because it is ironic how he passes judgment on others when he has acted so immorally. However, the Inspector says to Gerald and Sheila ‘If here’s nothing else, we’ll have to share our guilt. ‘ This very clearly shows the Inspectors socialist views supporting the working class which conflicts with the Brings’ views. He is asking them to share their guilt because they didn’t share their money when Eva Smith needed it. Similarly, Priestley uses the final speech of the Inspector to get across his message to the audience.
He uses a lot of linguistic features to persuade the audience to believe in socialism. The speech contains metaphors like We are members of one body’. This is personifying society as parts of a body, suggesting that if all body parts work together then the body will function properly but if the parts move in different ways then the body will not be able to function. Another metaphor (fire and blood and anguish’) is used to cleverly express Priestley socialist views. He is saying that if we all stuck up for each other, events like the World Wars would have never happened.
This also highlights the powers of the Inspector because he is predicting that Wars will happen if they don’t stick together and like he said World War 1 starts the very next year the play is set in. So, the audience consider the Inspectors sews more because he seems to know everything. This will make the audience walk out of the play thinking about their views on society and maybe even change to believe in socialist ideology to prevent another World War. The Inspector is Priestley mouthpiece and this is clearly evidenced during the Inspector’s final speech where Priestley speaks directly to the audience through this character.
However, Birding has conflicting views, as he still doesn’t seem to get it. He says at the end: ‘There’ll be a public scandal… I was almost certain for a knighthood’. Even after all this all Mr. Birding cares bout a stupid public scandal and losing out on his knighthood; he doesn’t seem to be worried or regretful that he was partly the reason for an innocent girl to commit suicide. In contrast, Priestley also presents the conflict between those who take responsibility for Eva Smith’s death (Younger generation) and those who don’t (Older generation).
This can be seen where Eric says ‘moneys not the important thing. Its what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters” and Sheila says “Erie’s absolutely right”. Sheila and Eric still feel responsible even though the Inspector is not real, so Priestley wants the audience to feel responsible even though it is just a play and take it as if it was real. He wants the audience to realize the moral of the play. However, Mr. and Mrs. Birding still don’t seem to get the moral. Mr. Birding says ‘(jovially) But the whole thing’s different now.
Come, come, you can see that, can’t you? ‘ and Mrs. Birding says ‘In the morning they’ll be as amused as we are. Mr. and Mrs. Birding find it amusing how Eric and Sheila still regret their actions even when it hasn’t ended in a tragedy. Mr. Birding thinks it’s funny and is mocking Eric and Sheila for taking responsibility whereas he doesn’t seem to take responsibility. On the other hand, Gerald seems to be in the middle because he’s acting like everything is normal and tries to make Sheila take back the ring and says “Everything all right now, Sheila” but he does feel sorry for Eva Smith.
Both Eric and Sheila Seem to feel guilty even if the Inspector was not real. The writer makes the younger generation express their regret so that the audience realize that the younger generation can change and live their lives differently to that of their parents and society. The playwright presents conflict as reality versus delusion. Sheila is very realistic whereas Mrs. Birding has a lot of pretences. Mrs. Birding cannot accept the fact that people belonging to the social class can have morals or be principled.