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

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

In ‘An Inspector Calls’ the Inspector wants to teach the Birlings how

important it is to treat everyone equally, regardless of social

standing. I believe, in a way he is also trying to teach the Birlings

how events can have ‘knock-on’ effects, and how their actions have

consequences, even if they are not intentional. Priestly’s main

concerns are the same to those of the Inspector – Priestly voices his

opinions through the character. The play was set in 1912, this is

important because it is two years before the start of the First World

War. The date 1945 (when the play was first performed) is also an

important year, as it was the year that the Second World War ended.

An Inspector Calls’ is a Drama, meant for performance.

J.B. Priestly uses an array of different dramatic devices to influence

the audience. He uses dramatic irony very early on in the play, in the

form of Mr. Birling’s speech. Birling talks about the Titanic, and how

it is ‘unsinkable’; and about how there was absolutely no chance of

war. Both of these statements are ironic because the Titanic does sink

and there are two wars to come!

Another dramatic device used is the change in lighting. At the start

of the play the lighting is ‘pink and intimate’, this changes to

‘brighter and harder’ lighting when the Inspector arrives. The

brightness almost shows us the awkwardness that enters the play upon

the arrival of the Inspector. This emphasises the change in mood in

the play and hints to the audience that more will be revealed.



... middle of paper ...

...oman. Perhaps this

is guilt seeping through the all too weak minded character Sheila?

Priestly also uses dramatic irony throughout the first Act of the

play. For example, Birlings speech where he talks about the Titanic

and how there is no chance of war. He also uses lighting to help

emphasise the change in mood upon the arrival of the Inspector. The

audience is left in suspense at the end of Act One, this is done so

that the interest in the play is kept.


I think the message that Priestly is trying to put across to the

audience is that there is no difference between people, regardless of

how much money they have, or where they live. This is still a relevant

point today, as many people live in a world full of discrimination and


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