How Does Priestly Present Ideas About Responsibility in an Inspecor Calls

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Arthur Birling says, ‘if we were responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn’t it? ’ How does Priestley present ideas about responsibility in An Inspector Calls? (30 marks) During the play Priestly shows responsibility through the characters. Arthur Birling feels that he is responsible to make a success out of his business which means, making as much profit as possible even if he is harsh in his dealings with the workers.

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Also, as a family man he has the responsibility to provide for the material needs of his family, yet it is clear the Eric does not see him as the kind of father to whom he could turn to if in trouble. In the play Mr Birling says: “it would be very awkward” if everyone was responsible. This shows that he is trying to avoid embarrassment because he is higher class and doesn’t want anything to affect his business. This is because his business is important to him and therefore his only main responsibility. The responsibility of his business is shown when Mr Birling says: “a man has to mind his own business. The word “business” indicates that Priestly is trying to show that during Edwardian times Mr Birling knows that business is more important than his family. Furthermore, his business is therefore important as it places him in a higher class which shows his public image and importance in the town. Here, Priestly successfully demonstrates that during the time period image was more important than family. Sybil Birling accepts her responsibility as chair of the Women’s Charity Organisation, but sees only a responsibility to help those who she feels are deserving of help.

Also, once they all discover that the inspector is not real she is happy to drop any responsibility which she has accepted for the death of Eva Smith. This is mainly due to the pride which she shows in her class: “I couldn’t imagine a real inspector speaking to me like that. ” Mrs Birling is showing how her responsibility is not important but instead her social class. The phrase: “speaking to me like that” indicates that she will not admit any responsibility to someone who is lower class and therefore, she does not show her feelings in front of the police inspector.

Also, “couldn’t imagine” implies that she has possibly never had to accept any responsibility because she is so powerful and therefore is almost trapped in a bubble where responsibility is not important. This is mainly due to the fact that in Edwardian times the husband (Mr Birling) is in charge and takes all responsibility of the family. Shelia Birling is a reformed character because she belatedly recognises that as a powerful customer she has no obligation not to let her personal feelings and ill-temper lead to misery for people who have no power.

She accepts the responsibility which Inspector Goole was addressing and eventually she tries to encourage the others to learn from the actions and therefore agrees with collective responsibility. “I know I’m to blame and I’m desperately sorry. ” This shows that she is publically able to accept the responsibility towards Eva Smiths death. The word “sorry” implies that she has had to understand why her actions are bad and therefore eventually change the person which you are. Priestly shows through the character of Shelia that even those with high power have to change their actions and the way which they live their life to not affect others.

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