Criticism in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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Criticism in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

"An Inspector Calls" has been called a play of social criticism. What

is being criticised. Explain some of the dramatic techniques which

Priestley uses to achieve the play's effects.

"An Inspector Calls" has been called a play of social criticism as

Priestley condemned the many different injustices that existed in the

society between the first and second world wars. He was particularly

scathing about the class system and the extreme contrasts of wealth

and poverty prevalent at that time. He also disapproved of the

selfishness within the individual and the fact that many people were

only concerned with their own power, profit and gain. Priestley

powerfully highlighted the exploitation of women and through the

character of Eva Smith, he illustrated the rights that women were

beginning to voice in society. Finally, Priestley used the different

characters in his play to show the how the sins of greed, pride and

selfishness have so corrupted society that the individual has become

oblivious to the consequences of their actions, in this case

culminating in the death of Eva Smith.

Although 'Inspector Calls' is set in 1912, it was first written in

1945 and produced on the lst October 1946, just after World War 11.

This is particularly relevant as after the war the country was plunged

into rationing and only the wealthy could afford to buy enough food.

It was a time in history when some people like Mr Birling were

worrying about higher profits "lower costs and higher prices" and

others like Eva Smith who were desperately trying to make ends meet.

Throughout his play Priestley warned so...

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interrupts and takes them back to relive the events. It is this which

allows the possibility that the Inspector was a real policeman who has

slipped out of real time and will return. If they fail to learn from

their experiences and are 'ready to go on in the same old way' the

Inspector's threat of "fire and blood and anguish" will become their


J B Priestley clearly had a strong moral conscience which led him to

hold socialist beliefs wanting to bring about change against the

capitalists who were exploiting the poor working class. In 'An

Inspector Calls' Priestley cleverly uses dramatic techniques, lighting

and stage directions to produce an emotionally charged setting to

bring home a very important message to the correct society of his day

and remains a challenge to the society in which we live in now.
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