With the opening line spoken by Mr Birling ‘ you ought to like this port Gerald. As a matter of fact, Finchley told me it is the same port your father gets.’ This shows us the family is high in society as in 1912 port would only be available to people that had the money to buy it.
In the first act they are celebrating the engagement of Gerald Croft to Shelia Birling. I should think Mr Birling would be happy as with this marriage his business would be able to merge with Gerald’s business to expand.
While they were celebrating an inspector, who called to investigate the murder of a woman called Eva Smith, interrupted them. She was also known as Daisy Renton. His part in this was to make every member of the Birling family realise the significance that they had in Eva’s Death.
Mr Birling employed Eva smith in his factory. He treated he as he did the rest of his employees. Eva was one woman who believed in equal rights, and higher pay for working class men and women. At this time the suffrage movement was over powering women who felt that they should stand up to their rights as working females So she stood up to this and went on strike with 5 of her workmates. All they wanted was a pay rise, but Mr Birling was too tight fisted. He wanted to keep labour costs down and profits up. This way there would be more money for him.
Women at this time were not seen equal to men. They couldn’t dress in short skirts, revealing tops, and they were not allowed to smoke. They had to do what their husband told them. They were seen as the weaker sex. They could only work in shops or in factories they were not allowed to do ‘men’s jobs’ e.g. join the military, become lawyers, or become a police officer. In relation to this they had less pay they got minimum wage, which was twenty-two and sixth pence. They would not have unemployment benefits as men would because the men high in society would not allow it, men brought money to the family not women.
We learn Eva’s life was a roller coaster ride of emotions. It had good points like meeting Gerald, having somewhere to stay, and having bad points like becoming pregnant and having little money. With the money Eva earned she could barely afford to buy food, as she had to pay for her room, which took most of her wages. Working class women did not receive health care and they had poor living conditions and sanitation problems, such as their toilet was a bowl that had to be emptied by throwing it out the window. This would cause many people to become ill, as the germs would be travelling in the air
The strike that occurs in Birlings factory was on the terms ‘women were not getting equal rights.’ The suffrage is a major factor to this. When managers were asked for a pay rise they refused angering, the workers causing them to strike. Mr Birling thought the strike was ridiculous and he cannot seem to fathom why it happened in the first place. So the easiest way out of it for him would be to fire the ringleaders of the strike. To set an example for the other workers, to show them who is boss.
We learn men think more about their own pockets than the health and care of others. They thought the people on strike had it coming to them. ‘ You have to come down sharply on these people or they will be asking for the earth.’ The capitalism shows through in his stubbornness to the inspector by thinking he is the higher class, an authority figure as to speak.
The suffrages wanted the right to vote. They would devote anything to it, even their lives. They wanted to be equal to men. Women made no progress in peaceful demonstration at first, and only disagreed themselves with violence in 1912 to 1914. Helping with the peace effort during the war has shown to the men of society women can be as good as they can.
We know Eva was poorly paid. To get money she became a prostitute and worked at a shop called Milwards. Gerald offered Eva somewhere to stay and some money to keep her going. She accepted as she felt it would give her a better life. But she was sadly mistaken.
In the text the upper classes were Mr Birling and Gerald Croft and the Inspector. They drank port wore expensive clothes, owned their own businesses and ate sophisticated foods. In working class families it would be a bed sit with brown walls and floors with only a desk, bed and a pan in the room.
This is appalling compared to today’s living standards. Well-paid people live in the same sort of houses as working class families and women have equal rights to men. Some women even get paid more than men. More women bring the money in to the household, as most unemployed are men. We are no longer in a time where a new boat is exciting for example the titanic. We have moved on and we are working toward everyone men women and a child having better lives and equal rights. No one is higher in status, they think they are, that is what causes the downfall in our society today. We are all equal and in those times I think it when we realised it.