“As if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive- community and all that nonsense.” (Mr Birling).
Priestly uses the word “community”. We already know that Birling is a capitalist so it seems as if the phrase “and all that nonsense” was used to ridicule the idea of communism. Capitalists essentially believe that everyman is for himself as it is a ‘dog eat dog’ world. On the other hand, communists believe that the world is one big community centre, where we help one another. Birling is saying to the inspector that he is only going to take responsibility for himself as he doesn’t believe in communism. In conclusion, Birling is a symbol for the capitalist government, trying to shrug off any responsibility put onto them.
“Well it’s my duty to keep labour costs down.” (Mr Birling)
This phrase shows us that Birling is forever contradicting himself in terms of responsibility. Duty is non-identical twin of responsibility. So, Mr Birling saying that it is his duty to “keep labour costs down” shows us that he does take on responsibility. On the other hand it could also be showing us that he only chooses when he has a responsibility. It is his responsibility to keep capitalists elite. In conclusion, this gives us the impression that Birling only chooses to take responsibility when his freedom or reputation isn’t put into jeopardy.
“I’ve told my father- he didn’t seem to think it amounted to much- but I felt rotten about it at the time and now I feel a lot worse.” (Sheila)
Moving on from Mr Birling and his left wing views; his daughter, Sheila, seems to take on much more responsibility than her mature father. As she is first portrayed as young, carefree and careless. (A common stereotypical picture of women painted by ignorant misogynists.) When her character begins to become more involved in the mystery…