The Presentation of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

Satisfactory Essays
The Presentation of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

J.B. Priestley was born in Yorkshire on 13th September 1894. He

gained his writing experience in the years before the war 1911-1914;

he did not work among professional writers; he was around “people who

read a great deal, cared a lot for at least one of the arts, and

preferred a real talk and hot arguments to social chit-chat.” Despite

having grown up into his father’s circle of socialist friends, he

found himself joining in in their political discussions/arguments. It

was around this time that Priestley started to write in his front

attic bedroom.

At the age of twenty, and at the outbreak of war, in 1914, he joined

the infantry. He left in 1919, having seen active front-line service

in France and having narrowly escaped being killed when a German shell

exploded three yards away from him and having been a victim of a


In “An Inspector Calls”, Priestley uses a lot of his political views

in the Inspectors speeches by using him as a kind of a mouthpiece for

his socialism. The play was written in 1946; however it was set in

1912, just before the outbreak of WWI. This was a new era when people

were no longer willing to accept the poverty or the class system that

had gone before. Priestley strongly believed that everyone had some

responsibility for others in society and not just their own welfare.

He realised that change was coming and explores this theme in his

play. Priestley believed that events are repeated over again unless

people face up to their past activities, like Eric and Sheila do, and

only this can bring about a positive and equal change in society.

At the start of the play, Act 1, Mr Birling is portrayed to the

audience as quite a self confident and opinionated person who doesn’t

believe in “collective responsibility”. He feels he belongs to a

social class that makes him superior and somewhat divorced from other

members of society. He has no concept of helping, or being

responsible for others. This is shown in Act 1 when he is with the

family and his daughter’s new fiancé, Gerald Croft, celebrating their

engagement. He made a few speeches that give the audience a bad view

of him and make him look arrogant and ignorant. “…Just because the

Kaiser makes a speech or two…Everything to loose with war, and nothing

to gain.” And to Eric, “…And I say there isn’t a chance of war…in a

world that’ll have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour

agitations and all these silly little war scares.
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