GCSE English (An Inspector Calls) Mind Map on An Inspector Calls: Age, created by Alysia Bradley on 05/03/2015.
An Inspector Calls: Age
1 The older and younger generations are deeply divided in this play.
1.1 The older generation seem to have little understanding of the younger
generation. Mrs Birling in particular doesn't know her children at all. She still
treats them as if they were children rather than young adults. In her mind,
Eric wouldn't be a drunken womaniser b/c he's "just a boy".
2 The older generation are also very ignorant and appear stubborn by insisting they're right. They see the
young as foolish. This is first seen in Act 1 when Eric expresses sympathy for the strikers - an idea which
horrifies Birling causing him to put Eric down saying that he will need to "brighten his ideas".
2.1 He feels the only concerns are production costs and ignores the human side of the issue which is fair wages for
the workers. He feels that this is his experience and business sense showing and he sees Eric as weak for being
more enlightened and caring for his workers.
2.2 They are used to having their opinions accepted and their actions not
questioned. This is why Mr Birling foolishly predicts the future despite
clearly not understanding the situation at the time.
2.2.1 Mr & Mrs Birling both react badly to being questioned and comment that the
Inspector is rude. They have never been forced to examine their consciences before
and find they cannot do it now fitting the saying "you can't teach an old dog new
tricks" which explains why they're so keen to forget any lessons they've learnt.
3 The old will do anything to protect themselves and
keep themselves at the top of the class pyramid.
3.1 Mr Birling comments that if he granted the workers a pay
rise they would soon "ask for the earth". In his mind, he'd
rather say and not give them better hope for the future.
3.2 Mrs Birling lies to the Inspector when he first shows her the
photograph as she wants to cover up a potential scandal.
3.3 To them both, appearances are everything with Mr Birling receiving a Knighthood.
Mrs Birling is only the head of a charity b/c it will give her respect in her social
4 The younger generation, exemplified by Sheila and Eric, are the opposite of their parents. Firstly, they're
capable of showing empathy as they're both shocked and saddened to hear the news of Eva's death.
4.1 They're also both prepared to talk openly about what they did wrong and make no attempt
to hide their part in Eva's death. The only time Eric appears to want to hide the truth is when
he calls Sheila "a little sneak". This is after she has exposed his drinking to his parents.
4.2 Both Eric and Sheila show remorse about what happened
and will not treat anyone in a similar way again.
4.2.1 Eric attempts to put right his wrong through risking prison by
committing fraud, showing he takes responsibility. They're both open to
new ideas and so Eric will be a more caring employer than his father.
4.3 Sheila seems to be able to move away from the traditional view that
she should marry the best "catch" by refusing Gerald's ring back.
4.4 The Birling children have modern views and it's through them that Priestly shows hope for the future.
5 Gerald is caught in the middle, being neither young nor old.
5.1 At times he's more like the younger generation by showing
empathy for Eva's death and being capable of kindness.
5.2 Yet at other times he sides with the older generation, particularly when it comes to business. He sees
nothing wrong with sacking the "ringleaders" in the strike an like Birling, he believes in a prosperous future.
5.3 Ultimately, he sides with the older generation wanting to forget about what
happened and carry on as before. This is perhaps b/c his aristocrat roots influence
him to want to keep things as they are and protect his own interests.