In this project I am going to discuss how ‘An Inspector Calls’ relates to it’s social, cultural and historical context and how this may affect interpretations of the play. ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a play by John Boynton Priestly, born in Bradford in 1894. The play was set in Brumley a made up town in the North Midlands in 1912, but was not written and shown until after World War II in 1946. The significance of this is that the audience will be watching a play that was set in 1912 and listening to all the things that Birling is saying that won’t happen in the future, like the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
The first and second World Wars. There was the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the General Strike of 26′ so they know he is just a pompous and self- opinionated man who thinks he is always right, but obviously isn’t. The play opens with the announcement of the engagement between Sheila Birling, daughter of Arthur Birling and Gerald Croft, heir to Croft’s Limited. They are all sitting around the dining table. Also at the table is Sybil Birling, wife of Arthur and Eric Birling, son of Arthur. After they have eaten, the ladies go for coffee in the drawing room while the men talk business.
As the women leave Mr. Birling starts to go on about how the engagement is a perfect opportunity to bring the two families empires together so they can make even more money, so things might be looking up for him as well as his daughter. Just as Birling is giving his speech on how everybody should be like him and look after themselves and their own, he is cut off by the doorbell. This is where the Inspector comes in. This indicates to me that the Inspector has something else to say that does not echo Birling’s sentiment.
The Inspector implies that everyone is involved in a suicide but never accuses anyone because of the way he talks and how he follows his investigation. He makes sure from the start that he is in control; it doesn’t bother him how high up they are. As he already knows what everyone has done he doesn’t need to say or do very much to make them confess. Mr Arthur Birling, a business man from the upper class side of Brumley, is a very pompous big headed man, who only cares about himself and his own. He doesn’t care for anybody else. He gives many speeches on things that he thinks will and will not happen.
He goes on about how all these wars are not going to happen by saying “That’s what you’ve got to keep your eye on, facts like that, progress like that – and not a few German officers talking nonsense and a few scaremongers here making a fuss about nothing. ” The audience will not be impressed with this because they have lived through two World Wars. He also thinks he is right by saying things like the General Strike won’t happen, he also mentions the Titanic being unsinkable – absolutely unsinkable. Mr Birling is a man some might refer to as overbearing.
He doesn’t care for others just himself and his own, him self more. He thinks that the whole family revolves around him. Whatever is going on around him, he doesn’t care because it doesn’t involve him or his business, which he always seem to bring into every conversation, this is along with how important he is and were he stands in society for example at the beginning when they are proposing a toast for the engagement and when the Inspector comes in and setting it as an example of Eric. His manner with the Inspector is very rudely put across as a character.
He does not treat him like a normal person, because he is not from their class. When Birling realises that he cannot intimidate the Inspector, he doesn’t know what to do because he has been knocked back a peg or two (which he is not used to). Even though he is higher in society than the Inspector he knows he doesn’t seem to hold the same power he normally would with anyone else. With Birling being the man he is, a very self-centred person, he tries everything to get the Inspector to see how the important he is. He does this by using social class again.