J.B. Priestley's Hidden Messages in An Inspector Calls

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In ‘An Inspector Calls’ J.B Priestley purposely embeds various messages in the text to voice his thoughts and concerns on the era. ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a play frequently described as a murder mystery, but underneath lies a strong political message. J.B Priestley uses numerous dramatic devices to attack the social mores of his time, such as the use of hindsight to show mankind’s mistake’s such as the wars and the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic- a morality tale. The play is also used as a platform to preach Priestley’s socialist agenda. With the upcoming political election of 1945, J.B Priestley decided to write a play in an attempt to persuade people to vote for the socialist party. Hence, Priestley decided to use retrospect by basing his play in 1912 to show all the mistakes made by the political leaders at the time. Thus the role of The Inspector is used as a ‘voice of god figure’ exerting influence over the Birling household, does he then represent the voice of Priestley or a ‘god like’ figure? However all that can be said in essence is ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a modern day morality play in which the capitalistic Birling family is exposed by the inspector, who ultimately happens to be a representative of not the law but morality. One of J.B Priestley’s most used dramatic devices throughout ‘An Inspector Calls’ is dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience understand the meaning of a situation but the characters in the play do not; this use of dramatic irony helps promote Priestley’s moral and political views. Dramatic irony can be seen in Act one when Mr. Birling makes self-assured conjectures about the potential war, “You’ll hear some people say that war’s inevitable. And to that I say – fiddlesticks,” and t... ... middle of paper ... ...nspector, we can see The Inspector’s authority over the Birling household. This statement also shows the inspectors true knowledge about the family reinforcing Sheila’s claim, "He knows. Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much he knows that we don't know yet."Therefore the climax of Act one only adds to the tension and drama amongst the audience, keeping them interested and involved as to what will happen in the following Act. Overall Priestley’s use of dramatic devices voices his concerns on the era, 1912-1945. Where he believed socialist politics would greatly help the people in need. However, I believe the playwright’s message is still relevant today, as there are still major divides between classes today, I also believe his views on socialism would be helpful in today’s society where people still do need to work together and help others in need.
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