Responsibility in "An Inspector Calls"

Topics: An Inspector Calls, Socialism, Capitalism Pages: 2 (846 words) Published: December 10, 2014
‘We do not live alone. We are members of one body.’ How does this play highlight the theme of responsibility?

‘An Inspector Calls’ is a detective/drama play written in 1945 by J.B. Priestley. Priestley believed in very socialist views that are very much about sharing and same values for all. Theses get reflected in the play, most notably as his role as the inspector, where Priestley most outputs his views in direct contrast with Mr Birling. Priestley portrays Birling as an idiotic capitalist that is very misjudged at common courtesy, often mocking him for being very ignorant and the lack of responsibility he(and by extension, some of his family) takes when confronted with their wrong-doings.

Responsibility is to acknowledge that you have had some part to play in a event or chain of events. It does not always have to be negative but the idea of ‘taking responsibility’ is, as not many people would take responsibility for their own actions if negative. ‘An Inspector Calls’ follows this theme very well, showing us how some people are more allowing of themselves to take responsibility than others.

Priestley uses the setting time and the time he actually wrote the play to highlight the themes of responsibility between the two eras. Pre-1912, people were very harsh when it came to helping and this was a time when Capitalism was rampant. There was a very large gap between the rich and poor, and Priestley used this to emphasize how bad things were back in 1912 and how change would be better. As in 1945, people were becoming more of a community and people helped one another, the idea of Capitalism and not caring about anyone dwindled as Socialism became more and more accepted.

‘We do not live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each over.’ The inspector says this during his final speech and it really shows the contrast between Capitalism and Socialism. The idea of ‘We are responsible for each over.’ is a very Socialist term, as...
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