J.B. Priestley's Use of Dramatic Devices in "An Inspector Calls"

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The playwright J.B.Priestley in “An Inspector Calls” uses many dramatic devices, including dramatic irony and tension in order to convey a powerful political message throughout the play. Priestley promotes the idea of socialism, suggesting a society in which community and responsibility are predominant. This is in contrast with the idea of capitalism, in which “every man is an island” and has to work for himself, with no second thought for other people. Priestley’s presentation of the Inspector as both omniscient and ominous becomes the manifestation of voicing his views. The play is set in 1912 but written in 1946; both of these years are a time when Britain is in disarray following two destructive and socially devastating world wars. Priestley uses this time difference effectively, showing people that the way forward is socialism. Finally Priestley comprehensively uses symbolism to explore the social breach between the upper and lower classes. The character of the Inspector has been used as a dramatic device. He is used to convey a message, as a mouthpiece to Priestley's views. He makes it seem as if socialism is the true and honest way to live. The Inspector does not use euphemisms and instead uses graphic imagery in order to shock the Birlings into giving him information, “she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out of course”. This acts as constant reminder to the characters of the horrible death which Eva Smith has just undergone; this makes them feel even worse. The inspector also has an aura of omniscience and an almost ethereal presence. His name, Inspector Goole, indicates this as Goole sounds like Ghoul and Inspector sounds like spectre. The Inspector is used to “correct” the capitalists and ma... ... middle of paper ... ...solutely unsinkable” Titanic and by the fact that he dismisses the threat of war “I say there isn't a chance of war” The implication is that it is tragic that someone as stupid as this should be in a position of power. Priestley’s intention is to make the capitalists look stupid and make the audience support Priestley’s socialist ideas. Birling’s views throughout the play continually oppose the inspector’s and so Priestley deliberately makes the play attack Mr. Birling, ironically in their own little war. Similarly, Birling feels little temporary remorse for what he has done to Eva as he feels a crime is only a scandal if others hear about it. Priestley’s presentation is quick in believing the idea that Goole wasn’t a real inspector “if he wasn’t it matters a devil of a lot”
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