Each bomb killed 70,000 civilians instantly; many more were to later die of radiation poisoning. This was a devastating time for all, if one thing positive came from the war it was the Welfare State being proposed. The Welfare State was social security from cradle to grave, a comforting thought. However, the end of the war marked a change. By this time many people were so downtrodden and terrified that there optimism probably carried them a bit too far, with many predicting a peaceful and loving world. A belief also shared later by the Hippies in the 1960’s.
Apart from this joint optimism, the social classes were divided. There was the lower/working class, which contained the social group, considered to occupy the lowest position in a hierarchical society, typically composed of manual workers and their families. Then there were the middle classes, which were the section of society between the poor and the wealthy, including business and professional people and skilled workers.
This class had both an upper and lower part to it, the upper middle class contained mostly, wealthy executives, usually factory owners and the lower middle class contained the sort of people who were teachers and still living comfortably. The Upper class were the highest social class, or the people in it, this class contained the aristocracy and the very wealthy, all the people who were considered upper class had a title, like ‘Lady’ or ‘Lord’.
J.B. Priestley, whose full name is John Boynton Priestley, was born on the 13th September 1894, in Bradford. At the age of 20 Priestley, who having grown up into his father’s circle of socialist friends, had now found himself joining in with their political arguments. Socialists believe in socialism. Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that visualise a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to the control of the community for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation. This belief is promoted more these days in the form of the Labour Party than the Conservatives. Socialists tend to believe that with the conservatives in charge that the poor stay poor and the rich get richer.
The Inspector’s speech is written as a piece of oratory, a speech rather than a conversation with the Birlings. The Inspector is not only addressing the Birlings with his speech but also as it seems is addressing the audience in which J.B. Priestley puts forward his own Socialist views. The inspector tells the Birlings and the audience that Eva Smith is one person, and this has only been about one person, but Eva Smith symbolises the working class people who are a victim of the harsh social system. These people have been badly treated by their employers and others, like the Birlings, who are in a higher social class and a perfect position to help the less fortunate.
The Inspector is saying that although this one unfortunate member of society has died, there are a lot more out there by saying that ‘there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths’. A group of three is used here to emphasize the amount of unfortunate being still out there. Groups of three are a common technique used to persuade people into doing things I think here The Inspector is trying to persuade the Birlings to look at the enormity of underprivileged citizens out there, just begging for their help.
Another group of three used in the Inspectors speech is ‘with what we think and say and do.’ I believe that by using this grouping of three, the Inspector is trying to make the Birlings and the audience realise that no action of anyone ever goes unnoticed and that for every action of one person there is an opposite and equal reaction. It is as if Newton’s Third law of motion applies to how the society is.
Towards the end of the speech, the Inspector says ‘If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish’ this group of three creates a very unpleasant image in one’s head and makes one ponder, what will this torture include? Is it possibly a piece of dramatic irony in which with audience knows it is referring to World War One, to which the Birlings remain blissfully unaware. Therefore, I personally believe that this is the most memorable and dramatic quote of the speech.