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John Boynton Priestley was a socialist He believed that whether we acknowledged it or not we are in a community and have a responsibility to look after others I believe that he wrote London to highlight these beliefs and share them In writing this essay I intend to show how Priestley explored the issue of social responsibility In London the initial meaning of the play seems to be finding out who might be responsible for the death of Eva Smith in the manner of a detective mystery As the play progresses however it becomes obvious that social moral and philosophic judgements and responsibilities are being made on all the characters in the Birling house that evening Everyone is implicated by their attitudes and actions The characters eventually come to a deeper understanding of themselves and the effects of their behaviour Priestley called himself a commentator and social philosopher He explores these ideas within the different levels of meaning in the play At first we are introduced to the family and guest happily celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald The arrival of Inspector Goole unsettles the family and with the revelation of Evas suicide the play becomes more serious The final layers are added by Priestley using the Inspector to make everybody present face their flaws and contribution to Evas desperate end They are forced to examine their own notions of social responsibility In the opening scene Priestley informs us about the Birling familys social status All five are in evening dress and as the play opens Mr Birling says Giving us the port Edna This establishes that they can afford and enjoy eating and drinking well As well as Edna the maid Mr Birling also says Good dinner too Sybil Tell the cook from me This shows that they are wealthy enough to afford household staff Mr Birling appears as a somewhat old-fashioned head of the household expecting his wife to manage domestic affairs
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