An Inspector Calls

how does Priestley show the difference in attitudes between the generations in an inspector calls

mr and mrs birlings is normal traditoinal beliefs that causes contrast between them and thier children in ways such as political beliefs

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We see that Mr and Mrs Birling are more embarrassed at being found out for their thoughtless treatment of Eva Smith rather than regretting what happened to her as a consequence. Mr Birling is more concerned with losing his knighthood than a young girl losing her life. Mrs Birling appears not to believe that someone like Eva, a 'lower class' person, could even have feelings, let alone need them taking into account.

Eric and Sheila show us hope in the future generation being more humanitarian. Eric may be a drunken fool on the outside, but he did try to provide for Eva, and certainly took the Inspector's words to heart. Sheila is comfortable in discussing and revealing the hidden faults which are ignored in their circle; for example Eric's drunkenness and the Alderman's lascivious ways. She sees through the Inspector's message that honesty, clarity and sensitivity are the true values of society


'An Inspector Calls' - J B Priestley

There are differences between the generations when concerning the characters attitudes and how much responsibility they take, this can be exemplified, mainly when the Inspector reveals what has happened.

The older generation can be exemplified through Mrs. Birling, Mr. Birling and Gerald, their attitudes revolve around protecting their own social status whereby do not seem to care for anyone but themselves and their family, this can be recognised when the Inspector reveals all about Eva Smith, and their reaction to this awful death, even though they are involved, seems to be non-existent, through evidence from the inspector, they still persist that they haven't participated to this death. They are completely unsympathetic towards the girl and take no responsibility for their actions as their domineering behaviour makes them feel as if they have done nothing wrong this can be shown when Mrs Birling states “I think she had only herself to blame.” by stating this she reiterates to the Inspector that she feels she has no involvement in the death, by stating 'only herself to blame' in relevance to eva's death is very cruel and self-centred, as she is clearly trying to revert back to it being Eva's fault therefore diminishing herself and her family out of the equation even though she can be considered to play a large part in her death.

As they are higher class than this girl they also feel as though the death is less important, as Mrs Birling states 'Girls of that class -” this demonstrates that she was prejudice towards the girl whereby due to her class and her position (getting pregnant and not being married) she was therefore not eligible to deserve any money from the charity, this can also be reiterated from when she states “I'm Mrs Birling, y'know” by patronising the Inspector she's reminding him of her status, showing him that she should not have an involvement because she is of a higher class than him she therefore feels she doesn't have to take any responsibility, due to her class. Her belittling the Inspector makes her think that she will be able to play no part in the death even though her actions have led to this, she cannot accept any responsibility and her response to Shelia stating “we killed her” is “don't talk nonsense”, this shows the drastic contrast between the two generations whereby Shelia has a more serious context to her statement in contrast to Mrs Birling stating 'nonsense' as if Shelia is talking in a humour like manner.


The play - An Inspector Calls

Priestley shows the contrast of different attitudes between the younger and older generation trhoughout the play. Their attitudes from both generations shows how much responsibility they take for Eva Smith's death.

Mr Birling is a "portentous man" and he is exteremely selfish. He wants to protect himself and his family. He believes that socialist ideas that stress the importance of the community are "nonsense" and that a "man has to make his own way". He wants to protecr Birling and CO. He cannot see that he did anything wrong when he fired Eva- he was just looking after his business interests. He wants to protect his reputation. As the Inspector's investigation continues, his selfishness gets the better of him. He is worried aboou how the press will view the story in act 3. He wants to hide the fact that Eric stole money "I've got to cover this up as soon as I can". At the end of the play, he knows he has lost the chance of his knighthood, his reputation in Brumley and the chance of Birling and CO merging with their rivals. However, he has not learned the lesson of the play: he is unable to admit his responsibility for his part in Eva's death.

Mrs Birling is described as "..her husband's social superior". She is a snob and isvery aware of the differences between social classes. She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe:Eric's drinking. Her behavior contrasts with Sheila who admits the truth. At the end of the play she realises her own repuatation within the twon will be sullied. Yet, like her husband she refuses to belive that she did anything wrong and does not accept resposibility for her part in Eva's daeth.

Sheila is described as " a pretty girl in her early twenties very pleased with life and rather excited". Although she has probbably never in her life before considered the conditions of the workers, she showsher compassion immediately she hears of her fathers treatment of Eva Smith " But these girls aren's cheap labour-they're people". Already she is starting to change. She is horrified by her own part in Eva's story. She feels full of guilt for her jelouse actions and blames herself as "really responsible". She is very perspective and is becoming more mature. Her behaviour contrasts with her parents; her social conscience has been awakened and she is aware of her responisbilites.