How Does J.B. Priestley Use The Inspector

To Comment On Social Injustice ? Essay, Research Paper

“An Inspector calls” – Coursework

How does J.B. Priestley use the inspector to comment on social injustice ?


The play “an inspector calls” is set in the year 1912, the same year that the great ship Titanic sunk. The author of this play John Boynton Priestley has used this time to show how social classes worked and how bad it actually was.

The play itself is set in a large house owned by a rich factory owner, Mr. Birling. Mr. Birling has a wife and two children, Sheila and Eric. The family are having a small party because they are celebrating the engagement of Sheila, Birlings daughter, to Gerald Croft. Gerald is the son of a great man who also owns a factory and Mr. Birling sees this as a chance to get into the big money.

The party carries on into a happy mood when suddenly an inspector calls. He tells them of a girl who has killed herself and soon everyone has something to do with this inquiry in one way or another, but did this suicide really happen.

My view of the class system as a whole is that it’s pointless and breeds. Yet then it was considered a great thing and that it was the only possible way to get through life, either being rich or poor. To a person of the nineties this may seem a terrible way to carry on life. If you really think about it though you would see that it made the standards of Britain high and it’s position in the world greater than others.

How does J.B. Priestley use the inspector to comment on social injustice ?

The play “An inspector calls” has a great story in it. Yet if you take out the story the play comments very strongly on social injustice in the early nineteen hundreds. There are many points of snobbery in the play whilst the inspector is there and also when he isn’t. For example the following quote is a solid piece of evidence from the play of the social life.

Birling: ……I have an idea that your mother- Lady Croft- while she doesn’t object to my girl – feels you might have done better for yourself socially.

Page 8

The above quote most definitely shows the snobbish side of Mr. Birling and how he wants to be a part of the Crofts and he will then be well known and maybe get onto the honors list.

The inspector is used in this play as really a base and also to bring out the upper class snobbery of the family. He is shown as a poor, arrogant man and he doesn’t care about the classing system. This makes him very strong and he can then bring out his thoughts without any hesitation to the family. The inspector is also for some reason a very good detective in a very unusual way. He doesn’t really ask many questions but literally persuades the family to come out with the truth, almost psychologically.

He goes out quickly. Inspector turns to Mrs. Birling.

Inspector: Mrs. Birling, you’re a member- a prominent member- of the Brumley women’s charity organization, aren’t you? (She then confesses)

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The inspector tells the reader that this family are not what you think, A saying says that with power comes responsibility. The inspector tells us that This family’s actions abused their powerr and proved to be very irresponsible.

The inspector gives the reader a new view of the characters in the story and therefore J.B. Priestley has succeeded in his mission to show that social injustice was a bad thing and through the story puts more sympathy over to the dead young girl. This making more hatred towards the Birling family and others involved with the incident.


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