Written in 1947, J.B. Priestley's didactic murder-mystery, An
Inspector Calls, accentuates the fraudulent Edwardian era in which the
play was set. Britain in 1912 was inordinately different to Britain in
1947, where a country annihilated by war was determined to right the
wrongs of a society before them.
In 1912 Britain was at the height of Edwardian society, known as the
"Golden Age". A quarter of the globe was coloured red, denoting the
vast and powerful Empire and all Britons, no matter what class they
belonged to were proud to be British - the "best nation in the world".
Theatres, musicals, proms concerts and films entertained the growing
population. The upper classes led such a lavish life of luxury that
the Edwardian era is now infamous for its elegance, ostentation,
extravagance and sexual license.
However despite the illusions of these secure times this epoch was
full of hypocrisy, prejudice and exploitation. There was a huge divide
between the upper and lower classes and the difference between the
affluent lifestyle the wealthy lived compared to the downtrodden
existence of the poor was remarkable.
In 1947 Britain had just come to the end of a devastating world war
where families had suffered immense losses and society was desperate
for a fairer, more equal lifestyle. Socialism and left-wing Labour
views were becoming increasingly popular and Priestley, himself a
Socialist, was anxious to point out the flaws of a society which
rewarded rich men who openly exploited the poor for profit. He
effectively uses hindsight in his play to ensure the corruption,
hierarchy and discrimination of Edwardian Britain was not repeated.
There is an irrefutable message in Priestley's thriller, a feeling
... middle of paper ...
... was genuine and this allows the audience to
almost predict their own ending; how will the family react to the
arrival of the real Inspector? Will they acknowledge this as a chance
to admit to their mistakes or will they try and conceal their guilt?
I thoroughly enjoyed studying An Inspector Calls and have learned a
great deal about how society has changed and how moral ideals have
evolved over time. I found the play effective although because of the
way in which society has developed Priestley's morals may not be
applicable to life today. As wealth and power have become increasingly
more important socialist feelings of responsibility for one another
have been progressively weakened. However I do feel that we as a
society might be able to learn from some of Priestley's teachings and
work together to form a more equal society for our future generations.
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