An Inspector Calls Essay

An Inspector Calls Essay

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An Inspector Calls

'An Inspector Calls' is a play written by JB Priestley in 1945 and set
in 1912. Priestley demonstrates his concern with moral responsibility
and his beliefs in Socialist values through the character of the
Inspector, whom he uses as a mouthpiece throughout the play. He voices
his opinions on these issues using this technique, and they are shown
by the way the Inspector deals with the Birling family and are
exemplified by the obstacles to social harmony in which the Inspector
has to face before coming to a suitable and justifiable conclusion.

The play was written in 1945 - within a week of World War Two ending -
but set in 1912, when Britain still had its Empire and was doing very
well financially. The time span between the two dates is Priestley's
way of expressing a feeling of urgency he thought necessary to pass on
to society after the events of 1945.

Although the war had ended, society in Britain in 1945 was still
experiencing the hardships that it had brought. New books were printed
under the wartime economy regulations, continuing the shortage of
paper and therefore resulting in the books being expensive - too
expensive for any working class person to purchase.

However, in 1912 some things were different. Society did not have the
burden of the war hanging over their heads, but life for the poor did
not differ much from 1945. Edwardian society was strictly divided into
social classes; below the very rich were the middle classes, such as
doctors, merchants, shop workers and clerks. After that came the
craftsman and skilled workers, and at the very bottom of the social
ladder was the largest class of all - the ordinary workers and the
poor, many of whom lived below the poverty...


... middle of paper ...


.... It is also contradictory to a section of
one of Arthur Birling's speeches: "By the way some of these cranks
talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody
else" which is the complete opposite to what the Inspector is
announcing.

The passage also anticipates World War One, in the sense that at the
very end, the Inspector says "if men will not learn that lesson, they
will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" - this, to the
Birlings, is a prophetic statement, but the reader and audience are
aware of it as it has already come to pass. To emphasise that idea,
the Inspector lengthens the list of words he mentions; instead of just
using a comma between "fire" and "blood", he chooses to use 'and',
which sensationalises the comment and makes it sound somewhat more
important than if he had just normally listed those specific words.

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