How does Priestley explore the importance of social class in An Inspector Calls?

In An Inspector Calls, Priestley explores the importance of social class by emphasizing the precarious social position of the Birlings, who have recently become rich and are attempting to buy their way into a higher class of society. This position makes them particularly sensitive to scandal.

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In An Inspector Calls, the Birling family occupy a privileged and powerful but somewhat precarious position in the class hierarchy. Arthur Birling is part of the newly rich middle class, who is using his money to buy a higher status for himself and his family. One of the ways he can do this is by marriage, which is why he is so delighted by the prospect of Sheila marrying Gerald Croft. The Croft family are somewhat higher up the social ladder than the Birlings, since Gerald's parents are Sir George and Lady Croft. Birling is hoping for a knighthood himself and is looking forward to consolidating his wealth and power through his daughter's marriage.

The Birlings have plenty of money, and are on their way to making more, but social class in England is not simply a matter of money. Aristocratic families may be able to cope with scandal, but newly rich families like the Birlings who want to buy their way into high society are vulnerable to any adverse publicity. It is notable that Sheila and...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 763 words.)

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