An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley

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How does Priestley communicate his political views through the character of Mr. Birling in the play An Inspector Calls?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mr. Birling represents everything that Priestley, as a socialist, despises. It's not so much that he's a wealthy industrialist; it's that he's a heartless wealthy industrialist with absolutely no sense of social responsibility. His callous behavior toward Eva Smith led directly to her suicide, ad even then, he felt no remorse for what he'd done. This symbolizes how Priestley sees England's dominant capitalist class: they ruin the lives of the poor without compunction, thinking only of their own selfish needs. Priestley doesn't simply present us with a narrowly political allegory in An Inspector Calls; he also wants to indict the prevailing system of capitalism on moral grounds, using the figure of Mr. Birling as the lead defendant in his withering indictment of an entire class.

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Brayan Effertz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Priestley, a convinced socialist, uses the character of Mr Birling to express his own political views in an interesting way. Mr Birling is anything but a socialist, being a successful, middle-class ‘hard-headed...

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