The story was set in 1912, just two years before the First World War. It was a time of great transition; the existing social order was being questioned. In the 19th century the British Empire had grew to be the largest the world had ever seen giving the rich, British snobs a very high opinion of themselves. The rich were disgusted with the poor, and the poor despised the rich. This is a reflection on the hierarchy of society, with God at the top, then the Monarchy, going to minor aristocracy the list goes all the way down to the working class "scum" at the bottom who comprised the majority of society. The play is set in an imaginary town called Brumley, somewhere in the north of England. Dramatic irony is involved in the early stages of the play. It is used on two occasions, one consecutively following the other. Birling states "Just because the Kaiser makes a speech or two, or a few German officers have too much to drink and start talking nonsense, you"ll hear some people say that war's inevitable. And to that I say - fiddlesticks! The Germans don't want war. Nobody wants war, except some half-civilised folks in the Balkans". As I quoted earlier the story was set just two years before the First World War, the audience would have known this, as the play was first performed in 1946. Another example of dramatic irony in the opening scene is when Birling is expressing his thoughts on the progress of technology, when he comes across the subject of the Titanic. "Why, a friend of mine went over on this new liner last week - the Titanic - she sails next week - forty- thousand eight hundred tons - New York in five days - and every luxury - and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." Little did Birling know that the Titanic was to sink on its first vocation the following week. .
Birling is the main member of the family, and seems to control it. I.e. whatever he says - goes! Mr.