Theme:status - In Act1/drama "An Inspector Calls." How is it highlighted int he drama? What isthe intention of writer writing highlighting this?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme in this play is responsibility towards others, especially established in this Act through the depiction of the Birling family, whose celebration dinner is interrupted by Inspector Goole who has come to question them regarding the death of Eva Smith, a working class woman they all knew.

"Act 1 opens during a formal dinner party. Around the table sit the Birling family.":

The author establishes that this family, who is celebrating the engagement of their daughter Sheila to the very eligible Mr. Croft, is carefree and wealthy.  They can sit around and drink champagne and think about their wonderful lives, without thinking about the state of events in the world, which is the eve of World War I.

"As the conversation continues, Birling complacently dismisses the “silly little war scares” of the time, predicting that there will be peace and prosperity for decades to come."

Their attitude is an example of the collective mindset of society in this period, early twentieth century, that there would be no more wars. How science was developing new inventions to make life easier every day.  This attitude is captured perfectly in the arrogance of the Titanic, the unsinkable ship that sailed without enough lifeboats for its passengers safety. 

Eva, the Inspector tells the family, has committed suicide. A contrast is drawn between the wonderful lives of the Birlings and the misery of Eva Smith, who had nothing to live for, and killed herself.  

Read the study guide:
An Inspector Calls

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