Social Class Theme
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1. Social Class Theme Notes
In An Inspector Calls, the cast of the play does not include any lower class characters (apart from Edna The Maid - the name 'The Maid' emphasises the distinction between the upper and lower class). We see only the rich, upwardly mobile Birlings and the upper class Gerald Croft. However, we hear of the lower class through each stage in Eva's life and we see the attitude the Birlings and Gerald Croft had for them.
2. JB Priestley’s message/intended effect on audience
Top AIC guides: Best 5 An Inspector Calls Revision Guides
3. Quotes relating to the theme of Social Class & Hierachy
4. Changing Character Attitudes to Hierachy
Attitudes at the start of the play
Mr Birling is keen to be knighted to cement his hard-fought rise to the upper class. He uses Eva Smith as cheap labour
Sheila was happy spending a lot of time in expensive shop. Eva was someone who could be fired out of spite because Sheila was socially superior.
Gerald is prepared to marry Sheila, despite her lower social position. Eva was his mistress who he believed could be discarded at will due to her lower class. He did not believe it would affect his relationship with Sheila.
Eric is awkward about his 'public-school-and-Varsity' life. He used Eva as easy sex at the end of a drunken night out.
Mrs Birling is socially superior to her husband, and embarrassed at his gaffes. She is disgusted that a socially inferior, working class used her name.
- The four other themes of An Inspector Calls on OxNotes are Responsibility, Conflict between characters and classes, Sexism and Gender Differences and Age Divide Between Generations. Click the links to visit those themes.
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