The English Society in 1912 Portrayed in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

The English Society in 1912 Portrayed in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

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The English Society in 1912 Portrayed in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

J. B. Priestley's play 'An Inspector calls' can be seen as a
progression from ignorance to knowledge, of which he conveys many
points of significance about English society in 1912. Priestley does
this through various dramatic techniques that convey his criticisms to
the audience.

Priestley provides detailed stage directions at the beginning of Act
One, which gives the audience the impression that the Birlings are
quite like any other normal upper-class family. However, as events
unfold he begins to slowly dismantle the family, taking each member
apart to convey the fact that some apparently respectable individuals
or families are actually flawed or even corrupt despite the
maintenance of an appearance of respectability. This important fact is
also emphasized by dramatic irony presented by Priestley when Gerald
comments," You seem to be a nice well behaved family" as indeed, the
Birlings turn out to be the complete opposite.

Capitalism is one of the main themes presented by Priestley in this
play. He mainly focuses on the effects of capitalism on people within
society and how it can lead to insensitivity, greed, lack of
compassion and exploitation.

Before the arrival of the inspector, an engagement party is well
underway in the Birling household, where the spirits are high, and
everyone is about to drink to Mr Birling's daughter Sheila, and Gerald
Croft's health and happiness. Mr Birling gives a little speech on how
it "… is one of the happiest nights of my life.", and goes on to
comment on how the marriage between Gerald and Sheila could bring
...


... middle of paper ...


...l his
inquiries, he gives a long, powerful speech about responsibilities for
others and the "…millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths
still left with us, their lives, their hopes and fears, their
suffering and chance of happiness all intertwined with our lives…"
With this the inspector emphasizes on the fact that society should
make allowances for poor people and those who suffer, and that we
should be careful of our actions as we are directly responsible for
the consequences.

In conclusion, Priestley is criticising the way that capitalism and
social class and status have a negative effect on the English society
in general in 1912. He emphasizes on how these factors influenced
cruelty and selfishness in society, leading to damaging inflictions on
the unfortunate people involved, such as Eva Smith.

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