Themes in An Inspector Calls Flashcards

What is the theme of responsibility in An Inspector Calls?

Responsibility is a major theme in the play. Priestley wanted the audience to understand the importance of personal and social responsibility. The Inspector interrogates each character, making them accountable for their actions towards Eva Smith. Sheila is the first to accept responsibility, making her a more empathetic character.

How does the theme of change and social action manifest in the play?

The play shows quick and radical change, especially in the younger characters like Sheila and Eric. Sheila recognises the exploitation of workers and argues against it, indicating a shift towards social responsibility and empathy. Priestley uses this transformation to show how positive change can happen swiftly with selfless actions.

How does An Inspector Calls depict the conflict between young and old generations?

The younger characters, like Sheila and Eric, are open to change and accepting responsibility, while the older characters, like Mr and Mrs Birling, remain arrogant and refuse to progress. Sheila’s transformation from submissive to assertive highlights this generational conflict and desire for change.

What does the play suggest about class and wealth?

Class and wealth are central themes. The play criticises the upper/middle class for their exploitation of the lower class. The Inspector’s message about shared responsibility suggests that the upper class should help address inequality and support the lower class. Dramatic irony is used to ridicule Mr Birling’s arrogance and capitalist views.

What role does dramatic irony play in An Inspector Calls?

Dramatic irony is used to make Mr Birling look foolish and highlight his arrogance. His confident claims about the Titanic being “unsinkable” are amusing for the 1945 audience who knew it sank. This technique helps enforce a negative image of characters representing capitalism and classism.

How does the character of Mrs Birling reflect attitudes towards responsibility?

Mrs Birling refuses to accept responsibility for her actions, even after learning she turned Eva away when seeking help. Her repeated use of the pronoun “I” shows her self-centeredness and lack of conscience. This attitude serves as a critique of the older generation’s refusal to change and accept social responsibility.

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