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How Does Priestley Present Mr Birling Priestley Presents The Character Of Mr Birling As A Symbol Of The Capitalist Ruling Class And The Need For Socialist Ideals

3086 words - 13 pages

How Does Priestley Present Mr Birling Priestley presents the character of Mr Birling as a symbol of the capitalist ruling class and the need for socialist ideals.
Priestley begins by presenting Mr Birling as a successful, albeit 'hard-headed businessman'. It is clear from the stage directions which describe 'The dining room... of a fairly large suburban house, belonging to a prosperous manufacturer' that Birling is rich and materialistically successful. In terms of capitalism, he is therefore a role model in the fact that he has reached the capitalist goals of making a financial profit. Once Birling's worldy success is established, Priestley undermines his character through presenting Mr ...view middle of the document...

Socialists believe that the rich should be heavily taxed to look after the poor. In the play, this equates to rich characters such as Mr Birling taking care of poor characters such as Eva. This view is disregarded by Mr Birling as 'nonsense'. Socialists also want to see the collapse of the class system. In the play, a socialist Birling family would have cared for Eva, and Mr Birling would have acted in a radically different way. Priestley also presents Birling as egotistical. He is so pompous that he cannot help but brag about his advantageous connections, bragging that "I might find my way into the next Honours List'. The use of language is highy ironic here; when the definition of the word 'honour' is to have allegiance to moral principals, it is clear that this is not an award Birling is deserving of. Indeed, the Honours List supposedly rewards those who are committed to serving and helping Britain, and Priestley is indicating that the whole system is farcical. It is clear here that Birling cares how others view him, but does not care about other. Priestley is criticising this selfish behaviour, reminding the audience that they should respect those with honour, ideals and determination - not those who selfishly and egotistically have made a financial fortune. In order to completely vilify capitalism, Priestley presents Mr Birling not only as ignorant, but also as inherently selfish; Birling believes that 'a man has to make his own way'. This self obsessed element to his character makes the audience dislike him thoroughly and see clearly the need for a move from capitalist ideals to socialist ideals. In conclusion, Priestley uses the character of Mr Birling to criticise capitalism. Through his selfishness and ignorance, the audience cannot side with Mr Birling or the capitalist ideals that have made him so wealthy. In seeing no morality or goodness in Mr Birling, and therefore the capitalist ideals he metaphorically represents, Priestley hopes to sway the audience towards the values of socialism.

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2.How Does Steinbeck Present Curley? Steinbeck presents the character of Curley as a symbol of his theme of fate.
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Curley is a character who is disliked by all in the novella - even his wife who confides to a docile Lennie "I don't like Curley". Indeed, Curley's actions throughout the novella are aggressive, confrontational and judgemental: he is the archetypal villain of the piece. However, despite his lack of positive attributes, Curley has a position of authority on the ranch - as the ranch owner's son, he elicits fear even in the usually calm George who asks "Slim. Is Curley's old man gonna can us?" when Lennie hurts Curley. At first glance, the reader might be confused as to why Curley has a position of authority on the ranch, particularly when near perfect men such as 'prince of the ranch' Slim are employed...

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