John Boynton Priestley was born into a socialist family in 1894, and so lived through the end of the Victorian era and into the 20th century. In 1910 he worked in a textile factory as a clerk, and so was a bystander to the discriminations of the time rich and poor, men and women and, as a socialist, was affected by them. Living in Bradford also gave him a good foundation with which to build up the kind of setting a family like the Birlings would have lived in.
Unfortunately for him, when war broke out in 1914 he was of prime recruiting age, and so was forced into enduring, and ultimately surviving, the horrors of the front line in France. He was, like the other survivors, a changed man when he returned. He witnessed the impoverished and aristocracy fighting and dying together, as if there was no class difference what is the difference between two men in the same uniform?
Sadly however, this lapsed as Britain got back to its feet again, but Priestley realised the consequences of social inequality. Powerless and horrified, Priestley watched as the world lapsed into its second great conflict.
This second bout of suffering made Priestley realise that something had to be done. Within a week of the end of the war, An Inspector Calls was written, expressing the urgency with which change was needed through the Inspector and, more importantly, Sheila.
At the beginning of the play, Sheila represents a typical middle-class girl of the time. She has been brought up to simply be a perfect wife. She seems very young, excitable and not very aware of the world around her. For her intended role in life, she doesn’t need to be. However, under the surface lies a being that for twenty years has been indoctrinated with capitalism and brought up to be materialistic, just like her father who values his money and power above all else, hence the ring. She says, “I think it’s perfect. Now I really feel engaged,” which seems an innocent enough statement, but suggests underneath...
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