An Inspector Calls: Social Division In A Play

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In the play, An Inspector Calls we are only introduced to people of higher social class, apart from Edna the Maid and the Inspector. In this play J.B Priestley is trying to show how the upper class lives such rich and divine lives, looking down on the lower class.

Mr. Birling stands his ground, the ground he fought for to rise and become more superior. He uses Eva Smith as cheap labor.

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Sheila was happy spending a lot of money and time in expensive shops as she was born rich. She portrayed Eva as if she was ‘just someone’ who was fired out of spite because Sheila had the power too and she was socially superior. Sheila was born with a silver spoon, she has not had to work a single day. She is hand-fed with everything at her fingertips.

The way Priestly sets up the setting to be a divine, luxurious dining room with dessert plates and champagne glasses, shows the stagecraft it signifies that the Birlings have wealth and that their family is set out and well structured, but in a matter of fact, it is the complete opposite they are a dysfunctional family, that only cares about their social class. This structure that Priestly uses portray how the Birlings are a higher class than everyone else just by the possessions they own, and by how neat and perfect every little thing needs to be.

Firstly, this quote represents how Mr. Birling believes that he is more superior to anyone who is a lower class than he is, “Perhaps I ought to warn you that he’s an old friend of mine and that I see him fairly frequently.” This quote shows how Mr. Birling bullies the Inspector through his status and authority in society, this signifies that Mr. Birling believes that he has more power and he has the right to overrule the inspector. J.B. Priestly conveys this as he portrays Mr. Birling to be stubborn

This theme of social class is embedded into this quotation as Mr. Birling is standing his ground, warning the Inspector, informing him who he is and the power and authority on the social class he possesses.

Furthermore, this quote portrays how Mr. Birling believes that he is greater than everyone lower than him. ‘If you don’t come down sharply on some of these people, they’d soon be asking for the earth.’ This quote represents how Mr. Birling believes that he is in charge and he should be the one to ‘come down sharply’ on some of these people, he refers to the lower class as some people as if they are worthless.

Priestly presents this to the audience as he wants to show them that this is not the attitude that we should have, there should be no class barrier, and everyone should be treated equally. Everyone should be looking after ‘these people’. J.B. Priestly believes this is wrong, and that we are all one. Priestly is trying to knock down this invisible but significant wall that separates people over class and wealth.

This quote is stating that Mr. Birling believes that no one should be responsible for anyone, apart from themselves. ‘If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn’t it?’. Mr. Birling quickly dismisses any responsibility for Eva Smiths’ death, as he believes we should only care and look after ourselves, or else it would just be awkward. This quote represents how selfish Mr. Birling is he does not want to believe what has happened, he is lying to himself and blocking out the truth. Priestly presents this to show how Mr. Birling feels as if he does not have to be socially responsible for anything because he has a higher social class. This shows how Mr. Birling perceives Eva Smith, he does not care about her as she is from a lower social class, he does not want to mix himself with the different classes, and he sees them as nothing, just dust. Furthermore, this signifies how Mr. Birling believes there is no such thing as equality, and that there are two different types of people that are divided by power and wealth, the higher class and the lower.

This quote shows how Sheila is socially responsible for her mistakes, she understands what she is done. It shows how Sheila is opposite to her father and accepts what she has done even though she regrets it. ‘All right Gerald, you needn’t look at me like that. At least I’m trying to tell the truth. I expect you’ve done things you’re ashamed of too.’ This quote signifies that even though Sheila has a higher class and she used it to make Eva feel down and get sacked, she is responsible, however, Sheila did something horrible she has taken full responsibility for her actions and she tells the truth, in this quote Gerald is being judgmental towards her as he has not done anything wrong, he has not taken responsibility for his actions yet. 


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