Age is an important theme in An Inspector Calls. Priestley uses it to show how he believed that there was hope in the younger generation's ability to learn and change.
The older characters' opinions and behaviours are stubbornly fixed. Mr Birling refuses to learn and Mrs Birling cannot see the obvious about herself and her children. Eric and Sheila however are younger - they accept their mistakes and offer the chance for a brighter future.
In An Inspector Calls, Priestley explores the theme of age through:
|How does Priestley show this?||Evidence||Analysis|
|Sheila and Eric||Eric stands up to his parents when it becomes clear that they will not take responsibilty.||"You’re beginning to pretend now that nothing’s really happened at all."||Eric sees that his parents are trying to 'pretend' that nothing happened when it is suggested that the Inspector was not real. He and Sheila, the younger characters, still feel responsible.|
|Mr and Mrs Birling||Mrs Birling explains her decision to turn away Eva when she came to her for help.||"So I was perfectly justified in advising my committee not to allow her claim for assistance."||Despite hearing about all the misfortune that Eva Smith has suffered, Mrs Birling is unmoved and stubbornly stands by her decision to turn Eva away.|
|Older Vs younger||Mr Birling turns on his son Eric and nearly attacks him physically.||"Why, you hysterical young fool - get back - or I'll -"||Mr Birling implies here that Eric is a 'fool' because he is young. Ironically, it is the older Arthur who nearly resorts to physical violence.|
How are the younger Birling’s, Sheila and Eric, different to their parents in An Inspector Calls?
The older characters are painted in a more negative light and they don't learn from their mistakes. The younger characters admit they were wrong and try to make things better.