The Theme Of Responsibility In An Inspector Calls

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In the play, 'An Inspector Calls', written by J.B Priestley, the theme of responsibility is presented in the text numerous times in different ways. The playwright particularly uses the characters, dramatic irony, the theme of guilt and generation, and the evocative character of Inspector Goole to illustrate the main theme of responsibility in the play. He mostly focuses on people’s individual and collective responsibilities in the society. First of all, Priestley uses the characters’ conservatism to show responsibility in the play. In Act 1, as Mr. Birling continues to avoid his fault, saying "there is nothing mysterious-or scandalous-about this business", the Inspector states, "what happened to her then may have determined what happened to her…show more content…
The older generation, portrayed as Mr. and Mrs. Birling in the play, thinks that taking individual responsibility is important, but not the social responsibilities. They deny their faults for Eva Smith’s death, and furthermore, try to avoid the situation by blaming others. The phrase, “I am not responsible” is constantly used in their lines which specify their strong conservative mindset. On the other hand, the younger generation, portrayed as Sheila and Eric in the play, is more open-minded and honest when it comes to admitting and accepting their responsibilities in the society. Sheila and Eric both feel guilty about themselves during the interrogations, when their parents tried to deny the fact that they were responsible too. This is evidently shown in Act Three, as Sheila says, “I behaved badly too. I know I did. I am ashamed of it.” The evocative verb, “ashamed” expresses Sheila’s acceptance of her responsibility of Eva Smith’s death. This shows us the contrast between the younger and older generations and their thoughts about the theme of
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