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An Inspector Calls is a play written by J.B Priestly in 1945 however it is set in 1912. An Inspector calls is a thriller set in England. This was a very difficult time for several reasons. In 1912 it was a time where people were just greedy and selfish. Priestly wrote this play because he was concerned that the world that he and others was living in was a place of disgust and that people could do better. To tender all these wounds in the world Priestly wrote this to show that there is enough time to repair these problems and be as bright as possible for the future. The play makes us question ourselves and what sort of a character we would prefer to be.
In 1912 it was a time of inequality. In fact there was a really big gap between the rich and poor, in the time if you were really rich, you were stated as really lucky, but for the poor it was a really different story. They had low wages and had difficulty on surviving on the money they were given. One of the most important themes in An Inspector Calls responsibility for other people’s welfare, and that wealthy people have obligations to look after those less fortunate than themselves.
J. B. Priestley uses the inspector to express his views to people. One more of Priestley’s reasons for writing this play was to show how people were behaving at the time. He wrote this play to reflect what people were really like and what they thought. The Birling family are rich and they look down on the lower-class as less than human make no difference to society. Mr. Birling believes he just needs to look after for himself, but Priestley doesn’t agree with this.
All of the characters that are sitting down to dinner are responsible for the death of one girl Eva Smith, but not all of them think about their responsibilities, Birling feels that everyone has to look after themselves. Priestley partly shows what he is trying to say by showing Mr. Birling a proud man to be in so much error about so many things, such as the unsinkable Titanic ship and the two world wars not going to happen the audience would know that he is wrong. This is a device which Priestley uses called dramatic irony which is essential to the play because it’s based on the world wars and the titanic sinking.
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One important device which Priestley uses to influence his audience is the use of time. The play is set in 1912, but it was written in 1945 these dates are essential to the play. Priestly uses dramatic irony and makes Mr. Birling sound ridiculous, as he says things that the audience know are wrong. Doing this, it has helped Priestley disgrace Mr. Birling about his position, not just his mistaken comments but also about the war and the Titanic. Which he says is unsinkable “unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable”. Mr. Birling is a fool, who thinks he knows everything and in reality knows nothing. Priestley enjoys making him seem silly to the audience, with his vision of the unsinkable Titanic and a war that will never happen.
Mr. Birling is very proud of his public status, so using the Inspector, Priestley shows us that being wealthy is not enough given that having a great status in the society means we have to take on responsibilities for others as well. We cannot have these privileges without the responsibility that we take on. Priestley is trying to teach his audience about responsibility for others. He was a socialist in his own way of life, and throughout the play Priestley uses the Inspector to teach his beliefs to the audience.
Mr. Birling quite clearly states that a man has to look after himself and his own, but the Inspector is there to challenge this belief. In the play it show that all members of the Birling family have some form of blame for the death of Eva Smith, but only the nice characters accept their guilt for what they have done and to change in future. Our actions do affect others as the Inspector tells the Birling family. With wealth and status comes a duty to help those in the community less fortunate than ourselves.
Firstly, we have the Stage directions to consider, Priestley uses stage direction as a dramatic affect to create suspense throughout the story so that the audience are interested and alert of what is happening. Throughout the play, there is no mention of Inspector Goole's significant appearance except in the first set of stage directions when he enters the Birling' house. He is said to "need not be a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness." There is no mention of any unique features to define him so already, an atmosphere of mystery has been created about this so-called inspector Goole.
Priestly creates an uncomfortable atmosphere from the stage directions at the very beginning of the play. "The lighting should be pink and intimate until the inspector arrives. And then it should be brighter and harder." Priestly wants to show to the audience the difference in mood when the inspector arrives. It creates dramatic tension. Tension is also being built in act 1, when the Inspector will only show the photograph to Mr Birling but then Gerald interferes and says "Any particular reason why I shouldn't see this girl's photograph, Inspector?" This is dramatic for the reason that the characters and the audience are not sure whether to trust the inspector.