thematic importance of class
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Taking the play from a socialist perspective inevitably focuses on issues of social class. Class is a large factor, indirectly, in the events of the play and Eva Smith’s death. Mrs. Birling, Priestley notes, is her husband’s social superior, just as Gerald will be Sheila’s social superior if they do get married. Priestley also subtly notes that Gerald’s mother, Lady Croft, disapproves of Gerald’s marrying Sheila for precisely this reason. Finally, everyone’s treatment of Eva might be put down (either in part or altogether) to the fact that she is a girl, as Mrs. Birling puts it, “of that class.” Priestley clearly was interested in the class system and how it determines the decisions that people make.