How does J.B Priestley use dramatic devices in An Inspector Calls?

Powerful Essays
Coursework How does J.B Priestley use dramatic devices in An Inspector

Calls to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience

as well as interest and involve them in his play? 23rd, February 2005

The main theme of “An Inspector Calls” is responsibility. J.B

Priestley wants to show the Birlings’ and the audience that we all

share responsibility for other people’s welfare, and that wealthy

people have obligations to look after those less fortunate than

themselves. Priestley uses Inspector Goole to put across his views on

society by portraying himself as a character. Through Inspector Goole

Priestley is able to emphasize that with privileges come

responsibilities to help others.

In the 1930’s Priestley’s main concern was the social inequality in

Britain. Priestly set up The Commonwealth Party in 1942. Their main

arguments were public land ownership, greater democracy, and a new

"morality" in politics. In 1945 Priestley’s party joined the labour

party. Priestley was particularly influential in developing the idea

of the Welfare State, this finally took place at the end of World War


The play is set in 1912 but was written and performed in 1945. This is

significant as it allows J.B Priestley to make Mr. Birling seem even

more ridiculous and naïve. For example, he mentions how there is not

going to be a war, however by 1945 when the play was first performed

the audience know that there were two wars between 1914 and 1945,

World War One and World War Two, which began in 1939. Mr. Birling also

mentions how the ship Titanic will not sink, ‘unsinkable, absolutely

unsinkable’. Again in 1945 the audience know that Titanic did sink,

consequently the things that Mr. Birling says, the audienc...

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conveying his ideas here. The audience would realise that everyone is

responsible for each other. Priestley interests and involves the

audience by having a lot of tension in the play “An Inspector Calls”.

Priestley also interests them by having an exciting plot and a wide

range of characters. He involves the audience by using dramatic irony

very early on in the play and using characters to put across his

concerns, such as the inspector in his speech tells the Birling’s

"each of you helped to kill her." This is not only aimed at the

characters on stage but at the audience too.

Priestley’s message in “An Inspector Calls” is responsibility and how

everyone is responsible for other people, we are all linked in

society. This message is still relevant today because we still have

responsibilities for other people and our actions do affect others.
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