GCSE essay example 27/30 An Inspector Calls AQA

Published on 26 February 2024 at 16:34

Question: How far Priestly presents male characters as irresponsible in 'An Inspector Calls'


In 'An Inspector Calls' Priestley uses the main characters in order to show that their reckless and irresponsible behaviour shouldn't go unnoticed in society. An Inspector Calls could be argued to be a feminist play as it highlights the many ways in which the men in the play exploit and abuse Eva and consequently abuse their privileged place in society.


Firstly, we are introduced to Mr Birling of whom Priestly constantly wishes to discredit due to his capitalist views. During one of Mr Birling's speeches he speaks of how "the Germans don't want war" and claims the Titanic is "unsinkable absolutely unsinkable" due to the play being set in 1912 but performed in 1945 this creates dramatic irony which at first appears to be exaggerated and even clumsy yet when we chose to link Mr Birling to the words that he says we are presented with a man who's ideas and decisions appear silly and childish making Mr Birling rather irresponsible partly due to how certain he is of his opinions as he repeats "unsinkable".


Mr Birling is also seen as irresponsible in the play when he fires Eva from what was her only source of income in which she lived pay check to pay check. Eric questions his father's beliefs on being justified to fire Eva by saying "why shouldn't she try for higher wages?" This further enforces Mr Birling's irresponsibility because he has supposedly tried to influence his children to share his societal beliefs and opinions however, they openly challenge Birling as he lacks the responsibility to consider the effect his actions have on others.


Mr Birling isn't the only irresponsible male in the play and this is made in the play and this is made clear in the actions of Gerald. The engagement between Gerald and Sheila is a business transaction they are not marrying for love but so Mr Birling's business can thrive. It then comes to light that in Act 2 that Gerald had used Eva as his mistress betraying Sheila and harming his business prospects. Gerald accuses Sheila of wanting to "see someone get put through it" which was a foolish and irresponsible thing to say to Sheila especially when we consider that Gerald was already placing their entire relationship at risk for months. The story Gerald tells is made out to appear masculine and heroic and without Eva's voice we never truly learn the extent at which Gerald harmed Eva by making her completely financially dependent upon him and eventually abandoning her with nothing to really keep her sustained causing his entire perspective of being Eva's hero saving her from Alderman to be a façade as he proves that he did the exact same thing.


The men in the play consistently abuse their powers and irresponsibly and recklessly purely because no one will critique their behaviour as it appears normal to society for men to behave in such a way.  For instance, Mrs Birling places blame for Eva's death on "the girl first" hereby suggesting that Mrs Birling believes that Eva's sexual assault was her fault but then she blames "the father second" without realising that she speaks of her son. Mrs Birling recognises the lack of responsibility the father has taken in trying to support Eva and so believes he should be less responsible as to have a baby with a woman outside of wedlock and the irresponsibility of abandoning her after she refuses stolen money. However, it is shocking to a modern audience that Eva is being blamed for the irresponsible actions and behaviours of a man by another woman.


It could be argued that out of all the males in the play Eric is the most irresponsible. We could say this because Eric not only behaves young and recklessly but he breaks the law. Eric uses euphemisms in order to conceal the horrific details of what he did to Eva. He claims that he "was in that state where a chap easily turns nasty" Here he is attempting to justify his actions purely because he drank an excess amount of alcohol which is highly irresponsible. Also, he tries to make his actions appear common and justifiable through "chap" suggesting that many men behave in the same manner which of course is verisimilitude as that was and is what some men do. We learn how Eva took an almost maternal relationship with Eric treating him like a child when he asked to marry her. Eric's actions are easily deemed foolish by the audience as we capture the true picture of his actions. This irresponsibility that Eric has when he steals money and sexually assaults Eva is in fact breaking the law. He - unlike Mr Birling- commits a crime which only makes Mr Birling look more irresponsible as readers remember what Eric told his father in Act 1 surrounding Eva being fired highlighting the blatant double standards that were written into the society in 1912. 


However, it could be argued that the Inspector is presented as the contrast to the Capitalist men. He is both their foil in political viewpoint but in the responsibility he takes on. The Inspector takes his role very seriously - as he should- knowing that it is completely up to him to receive justice for Eva Smith. As a result, he is not blind sighted by the Birlings as they try to buy their way out of the investigation and even as they attempt to intimidate the Inspector he continues his role showing both responsibility to himself but Priestly uses him as the role model for socialism and his actions affirm what social responsibility should look like. Therefore, not all the men in the play are irresponsible


In conclusion, Priestly presents the men in 'An Inspector Calls' in such a way to show the errors inside the patriarchy and the lack of responsibility society is taking for crafting these men to be so irresponsible with their lives as they toy with others emotionally and physically. 


Create Your Own Website With Webador