Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ in 1945 but it is story set 1912. In ‘An Inspector Calls’, Priestley presents the theme of social responsibility by introducing a wealthy family in 1912. Social responsibility is people and organisations that are aware of what effect their action have on others. He presents it by writing about the Birling family who are upper class, wealthy, selfish and hot-headed. He writes inspector Goole as himself to represent his feeling about social responsibility. Inspector Goole comes to the Birling’s family and asks some questions about a girl’s suicide. This story shows how each action of the Birling family had an affect on the character Eva. Also the differences between the rich and poor, and their social responsibility. The social responsibility is shown in the play through different characters such as Sheila Birling, Eric Birling, Gerald Croft and inspector Goole. Priestley presents some social responsibility through Sheila that she wants to protect the lower class girl, shown in this quotation “but these girls aren’t cheap labour – they’re people.” This shows that Sheila doesn’t compare anyone as nonhuman, she thinks that all people are the same as she no matter what their classes. Sheila used the word ‘people’ because Sheila wants to show her family that Eva isn’t a dog or a cat that we can’t ignore this easily because Eva is a human. Furthermore, after she knew that she was done something wrong she regretted it. In the quote that Sheila said bitterly “I know. I had her turned out of a job. I started it.” Sheila wanted to say that she thinks she had started it but the truth was she didn’t start it. In the sentence ‘I started it’ means what happened to Eva is because of Sheila, because she caused Eva to meet Gerald and Eric. If she had not met them she would have had a better life. In past history, customers who came to the shop were respected and treated like god, therefore the shops needed to make their customers liked their shop. So if their customers disliked something they needed to fix the problem. It was just like Sheila’s case that she disliked Eva Smith so she told the manager of the shop to dismiss her. This links to the theme of social responsibility because Sheila is a capitalist lifestyle because we can see that she is in upper class but she has a personality to help others.Priestley shows Gerald Croft has a little of social responsibility. This is shown in the following quote when Mr.Croft said “I made the people at the Country find some food for her.” He help Eva who didn’t have money left with his warm-hearted. In the word “made”, it makes us feel that Gerald uses his power to do something. In addition, Gerald said “I insisted on Daisy moving into those rooms and I made her take some money.” Eva was homeless so Gerald gave her a room to live and money to survive. Mr.Croft used the word “made”, it seems to be like he forces Eva to receive money. Priestley writes this scene linked to the roles of women because Eva look like she is under control of Gerald. In the scene that Gerald broke his relationship with Eva and abandoned her, but she can’t disagree with this because she is a woman. Gerald makes us feel that he is a good man by being gentle and warm- hearted, but sometimes he’s also bad by leaving Eva with coldness. Most of all he is a capitalist because Priestley writes that Gerald gives the thing that is necessary to Eva with a warm-heart and pity because it’s to his benefit.The writer also presents social responsibility through Eric. It shows in the quotation Eric said “so I insisted on giving her enough money to keep her going… I got it – from the office.” This shows that Eric didn’t steal the money for himself, but he took it for Eva because he felt that he needed to do something useful for her. Eric used the sentence “to keep her going” because he wanted to respond to what he had done so he gave Eva money for living costs. Furthermore, Eric shows his social responsibility by referring to Gerald’s comment on it being nonsense “I don’t see much nonsense about it when a girl goes and kills herself. You lot may be letting yourselves out nicely, but I can’t. Nor can mother. We did her in all right.” Eric saw that Eva’s death was very important while Gerald and Mr.Birling thought about a trick and he wanted everyone to feel that we needed to respond to the girl that committed suicide. The sentence “we did her in all right”, Eric wanted to notice that it was true that everyone did bad things to contribute to Eva’s death, so everyone was responsible. When the poem was written it had the rule that the people who stole money were criminals, so it was illegal. Eric stole the money, so he was a criminal, but Priestley wrote that Eric didn’t steal the money because he got it from Mr. Birling’s factory that is his family’s money. Priestley can make the audiences feel that Eric can do the bad thing to respond and apologize to Eva. This also shows that Eric was socialist and had social responsibility because he had done the things that became a criminal.Lastly, Priestley writes mostly about social responsibility throughout inspector Goole by judging the Birlings and keep asking questions. Finally Birling’s family know what they have all done. In the quotation “there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us” The inspector wants to say that there are people like Eva waiting for someone to help them such as the Birling family. The writer uses alliteration with “million” to underline that there are too many people the same as Eva Smith. Another example of this, inspector Goole said “we don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.” He teaches the Birling family that we are all human and we are the same as each other, so we need to help each other. In the phase “member of one body”, it means we have the same thing like each other human. This shows that at the time, there was inequality between upper class and lower class. That makes us think inspector Goole is Priestley’s opinion and he wants to teach everyone to be aware what they are doing, right or wrong. This is showing that inspector Goole is the most socialist because he makes the Birlings know that they are wrong. In my conclusion, Priestley writes that social responsibility is very important. He writes that the Birling family don’t have social responsibilities, some of the family show more responsibility and some show less. And the impact it has on us, I think Priestley writes that Sheila is showing that she has feelings to protect someone, but she doesn’t know how to act. Eric shows it by stealing money for someone because he does something wrong. Gerald shows his social responsibility by being kind to Eva, but it is a benefit to himself. Personally, I think that inspector Goole is the most socially responsible because he teaches people who have done the bad thing to change themselves to be better.
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