In An Inspector Calls J.B. Priestley has a message to deliver, what

In An Inspector Calls J.B. Priestley has a message to deliver, what

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In An Inspector Calls J.B. Priestley has a message to deliver, what
is this message and how does he deliver this message?

In the play 'An Inspector Calls' the playwright John Boynton
Priestley, uses real people in artificial situations to create the
well-rounded performance, he does this so effectively because the
people of the time could relate to these situations, setting and the
issues raised but could also place themselves in the play with each
person in the audience becoming an actors.

We are constantly kept on the edge, never knowing what to expect next.
He does this by using many complex dramatic devices in order to give
the correct information to the audience and actors and deliver it with
pinpoint timing. In this family situation the inspector is able to
manipulate it by knowing the significant weaknesses and personalities
of the individual family members. He shows the family cannot
communicate with each other when put in a tense or uneasy situation.
One of the devices he uses is the constant use of small climaxes where
the audience believe they have found the major culprit then the line
of enquiry jolts off into another direction this makes the play both
captivating and interesting. This is shown in the way it holds the
audience all the way through, building up slowly with peaks, gathering
the complex plot as it goes along, then finally ends in a stunning
climax with a twist. Throughout the play the inspector is extracting
small threads of information from each member of the family and slowly
interweaves the small threads to form one big picture, once the
picture is formed the audience can narrow it down to the main culprit
this acts as the first conclusion of the play, but once the audience
have realised that there isn't one culprit but instead the whole
family are guilty for her death this really drives the message home.

The inspector uses a photograph very cleverly because the family
believe that the inspector is showing the same pictures to everyone,
as an alternative these could be pictures of different people. After
the inspector has carried out all his investigations the family is
split into two sections, one being the people who are sorry for all
the hurt and pain they have caused, these are the people that have
taken in Priestley's and the inspectors message, the socialists. On
the other hand the other group are the elders that are stuck in there
old fashioned ways and believe that society functions better as
individuals and not a team these are the people that Priestley is
rebelling against, the capitalists, the money driven people who don't

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care about human welfare but how much profit can be maid. Another one
of Priestley's messages is that, 'it takes every kind of person for
the world to go round'

Priestley cleverly named the inspector 'Goole' this is pronounced the
same as 'ghoul' which is a ghost, this suggests the supernatural but
is not picked up by the audience until the departure of the inspector
at the end of the play. This adds to the dramatic devices with the use
of 'play on words'.

Priestley uses dramatic irony in this play, this is where the
characters think or say something that the 'third party' knows is not
true, for instance in the play where Mr Birling says "No body wants
war" and "the titanic is unsinkable" this works extremely well as the
audience have already witnessed the titanic sinking and the war in the
recent years prior to the production and publishing of the play in
February 1945. This couldn't have worked quite so well if it was
produced before the war as the audience would think nothing of these
uneducated speeches but instead marvel at mankind's great
achievements.

The inspector is the main focus throughout the play, he is depicted as
an ordinary, straight talking middle class man who enters the Birling
household and is automatically dismissed as being welcome at the
family's celebrations. The inspector cunningly lets Mr Birling admit
to something else before letting them know what he is really here for,
this shows that Mr Birling has a guilty conscious. When Mr Birling is
told that a young girl is dead he becomes uneasy. Once the inspector
starts questioning him he is discussed as he thinks that a man of
middle class shouldn't be able to talk to someone of the upper class
in that way, and Mr Birling starts to threaten the inspector. This is
the first time in the play were class is an issue, later on in the
play Eva smith is portrayed as lower class that deserves no respect,
this is an additional messages from Priestley in that he believes that
peoples shouldn't be segregate, but instead have the same
opportunities and chances.

The results of the Inspectors visit as regards the younger generation
are total metamorphoses of character. The older generation however
don't see that they have done anything wrong. Mr and Mrs Birling are
all too happy to dismiss the evenings events as false once the chance
appears that the Inspector may not have been a police Inspector. Their
characters stay the same virtually from beginning to end, with only
the short amount of time between Eric's part in the saga becoming
known and the Inspector showing any waver in their determination that
they were right. The senior Birlings are the examples of the people
who will be taught through "Fire and blood and anguish". This is very
different to the younger generation. "You seem to have made a great
impression on this child Inspector" comments Birling, and is answered
with the statement "We often do on the young ones. They're more
impressionable." This implies that Priestley is trying to say that
there is potential for change in the "young ones" which is not as
evident in the older generation.

The play was set in 1912, just before World War I, but written in 1945
in the last year of World War II. Priestley served in World War I and
was nearly killed twice, once by a shell and another by gas. He was
strongly against war and the conditions in the trenches, he thought
that sending fit young men into the trenches on the front line was
cannon forded or an expendable rescores. I think this a directly
symbolic to Eva Smith comparing her to the solders in the war and the
way they were so wrongly treat, used, abused and forgotten. With this
line from the inspector really proving this theory "there are millions
of Eva Smiths in the world". Priestly could be described as a pacifist
and he thought under no circumstances was a war inevitable. There is a
saying that had come about after the first world War that is 'lions
led by donkeys' to describe the officers of the British army, also
this fits into the play extremely well, Mr Birling is a donkey and his
children are lions who have the potential to accomplish anything but
are held back by there parents.

If we contrast the character of Birling with that of the Inspector, we
can see Priestley's aims showing. The Inspector is the opposite of
Birling. Where Birling's predictions are wrong, the Inspector predicts
that if people don't learn their responsibilities, they will be taught
in "fire and blood and anguish". This prediction refers to World War I
most obviously, but also can refer to World War II. The lessons of
World War I weren't learnt so the same mistakes were made and another
war started; and though Priestly was unaware of it when the play was
written, sixty years on the same mistakes have caused war after war.
This makes his message just as relevant to the audience of 2001 as to
his intended audience. Another contrast to Birling is that while
Birling seemingly knows nothing of his family's affairs, Sheila says
of the Inspector "We hardly ever told him anything he didn't know".

In 1912 the position of the woman was very weak, it was at this period
in history that the suffragette movement lead by Emily Pankhurst was
leading woman to the right to vote, as woman were entitled to do and
say so little, for instance they were no allowed to smoke or drink in
public and they were no allowed to know abusive language. You can see
this in the play where Mrs Birling corrects Sheila after she accuses
Eric of being 'squiffy' this would be an inappropriate word for a
young lady of this time period to know. It is shown again when the
gentlemen leave to go into the drawing room and the women are not
invited.

The inspector when put in a murder and comedy genre keeps the audience
guessing all the way through the play. As the clues are revealed,
mysteries are solved and the audience thinks he or she knows who it
is, Priestley skilfully switches to another character. This keep the
audience engrossed in the pay and the action that is happening on the
stage, this makes them feel like they are involved in the play and has
effectively pulled down the forth wall of the stage. In doing this,
the audience are no longer watching a play but watching themselves.

Priestley emphasises that we are all responsible for the decisions we
make and actions we take. All our actions have consequences. We are
also responsible for each other because a community works together for
the best possible life and standard of living, therefore we should
think about the consequences before taking actions. Another one of
Priestley's beliefs was that no matter what your upbringing or parents
we should all be entitles to the same chances in life and class should
be disassembled for egalitarianism.

Priestley wrote this play in just two weeks without a draft, I think
that this shows that Priestley felt strongly about this subject and
knew exactly how he wanted to put his message across. Priestley wasn't
a writer but he did enjoy writing to express himself, his feelings and
his beliefs.

The ending, as I have already pointed out, symbolises the fact that if
you do not learn your lesson the first time, you will be taught it
again and again. It symbolises that you can't run from your
conscience, as the Birlings will find out. Priestley uses the dramatic
twist of the Inspector returning at the end of the play to emphasis
this point, and makes it more effective by placing it just as the
characters are beginning to relax. It serves to 'prick' the
consciences of both the characters and the audience.

The aims of Priestley when he wrote this play, I believe, were to make
us think, to make us question our own characters and beliefs. He
wasted to show us that we can change, and we can decide which views we
side with. He wanted us to ask ourselves if we wanted to be a Sheila
or a Sybil, an Eric or an Arthur. Or, were we in-between like Gerald.
Priestley wanted the audience to learn from the mistakes of the
Birlings. I think that Priestley wanted to make a difference; not a
world changing difference, but a small difference in the way people
think. Then, if you think of every person who coming out of the play
gave some money to a beggar in the street, you would see that
Priestley did make a difference. It would have changed people's views
on society, however small those changes would be, and so Priestley
achieved his aims in writing the play.

In the live production of the play Priestley decided not to include an
interval for two main reasons. Firstly, he didn't want the audience to
loose the plot or rhythm of the play and secondly because he wrote it
as a 'reality play' so he wanted it to be as real as possible
therefore there is no time to have a break in life you have to act on
your gut decisions and instincts.
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