The Inspector starts his enquires with Mr. Birling, who is a prosperous business manufacturer. He is not from the same social class as his wife, Sybil. He is confident but betrays his lack of social graces, we see this when his wife corrects him, “Arthur, you’re not supposed to say such things” We can also see that Mr. Birling is aware of business advantages from the union of the two families. Mr. Birling’s business aspirations come into the open when he tells Gerald about his knighthood, “there’s a fair chance that I might find my way into the next Honour’s List. Just a knighthood, of course. These are all good examples of how being higher up the social hierarchy in this era was regarded as being extremely important. Mr. Birling also shows us the attitude towards women at the time. His involvement with Eva Smith goes back two years.
He employs hundreds of women so is obviously a successful businessman. He sacked her because she asked for a pay rise; he did it without consideration of personal consequences for Eva Smith and refuses to accept responsibility. As his impatience grows we see his true colours, “obviously it has nothing whatever to do with the wretched girls suicide. This is a good example of how women in the lower or working class meant nothing to the upper class. He does not seem to be at all bothered about what has happened to this girl and finds it all a complete nuisance. We also see later on that the only reason this was a nuisance is because if it were to get out in the open it would be a great threat to the chance of Mr. Birling getting a knighthood. This once again shows how important climbing the class hierarchy was to people of this era, even more important than a woman’s life.
20th Century Essay
The next person the Inspector questions is Sheila. Sheila tried an item of clothing on in the shop where Eva worked but it didn’t suit her. “I caught sight of this girl smiling at Miss Francis… and I was absolutely furious. ” So she went to the manager and said that Eva had been impertinent. Furthermore that Eva must be sacked immediately otherwise she would persuade her mother to shut her account with them. Obviously her mother’s account was worth a lot more to the company than one working class girl.
She did this out of jealousy, embarrassment and vanity, which we later go on to see is similar to her mother. Afterwards though she feels upset and guilty. This once again shows that the attitudes towards women especially in the lower class were poor ones. Next the Inspector questioned Gerald, Sheila’s fianci?. He had an affair with Eva, but she had changed her name so he knew her as Daisy Renton. His affair with her gave him sex and a sense of being a hero. This affair is not criticised by Sheila’s parents though as in that time this was a thing that higher-class men would often do.
He is embarrassed, defensive and looks for ways out of feeling guilty. Gerald suggests, “young women ought to be protected against unpleasant and disturbing things” which is quiet ironic considering he cheated on Sheila and used Daisy as a prostitute. From the way he treated these two women we can see that he did not have a lot of respect for either of them. This was often the case in this era, men went around doing as they pleased and the women were just seen as second-class citizens who could be treated however the men pleased.
Mrs. Birling is the next one to be questioned by the Inspector. Mrs. Birling met Daisy when she came to Mrs. Birling’s women’s charity asking for help. She needed help, as she was unemployed, homeless and pregnant. Mrs. Birling refuses to help Daisy, she says that she was personally insulted and lied to. Just like Mr. Birling she is angry and refuses responsibility. We see that people in the higher class had the right to decide whether or not the lower class deserved help and whether or no they were telling the truth. Mrs.
Birling puts her foot in it firstly when she says, “I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have. If, as she said, he didn’t belong to her class, and was some drunken young idler, then that’s all the more reason why he shouldn’t escape. ” She then goes on to say, “he’d be entirely responsible” and that “he ought to be dealt extremely severely. ” We then go on to see that the man she is talking about is in fact her own son Eric.
The I So from the source we can learn that Polly Nicholls murder consisted of “extraordinary violence. Inspector ends his enquires with Eric, who got Daisy pregnant. The fact that once more Daisy was used as prostitute, and also used for a man’s pleasure and then dropped when he felt like it. He got her pregnant and although he did try to help her afterwards by giving her money other than that he made no real effort to help her. This once again shows how being a lower class woman in this era was just about as low as you could get in the class hierarchy. Afterwards he does realise though what he did was irresponsible and he does feel guilty for it.
Like Sheila he also wishes that the others would take responsibility for their parts leading up to the death of Daisy. In conclusion we can see that An Inspector calls tells us a lot about the class hierarchy and attitudes towards women in the begging of the twentieth century. We see that women were treated very badly by men and sometimes even by other women who were in higher classes to themselves. We also see how the higher up you were in the class system the easier it was for you and the easier it was for you to get your own way in matters.