An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley


JBP's plays all contain many themes but focus on power and status. In
'An Inspector Calls', he shows how people misuse these and the effects
it has. Another focus of this play is how people must have collective
responsibility.

The setting of this play was in a room, just one room, and the action
revolves round this. The setting also portrays a comfortable lifestyle
but relationships aren't cosy. The room is a match to Arthur Birling.
It is outwardly solid but underneath the respectability there is a
rottenness, which the inspector exposes through his questioning.
Because this set is realistic, the audience feels safe and this allows
J.B.Priestley to introduce mystery which destroys the feeling. All the
interviews take place in this room and this allows the action to
revolve around the inspector.

or.JB Priestly named the inspector G-O-O-L-E. This adds to the
suspense the audience doesn't know who he is or why he's there. An
alternative spelling is ghoul which means a ghost. One of the effects
on the Birling family is that, the inspector builds up tension between
them by using climaxes, example (end of Act 1). The inspector uses
different techniques some of the techniques are, he makes them give
the game away. He also makes them bluff everything out, and commands
them to answer, and each and every question he asks they cannot get
away with.

The inspector interrogates each and every character differently. He
starts on Mr Birling. Mr Birling is a successful businessman, who has
been active in local politics and has had honour of being lord mayor.
He tries to use his social status to intimidate the inspector. Mr
Birling is pompous, a bully and unsophisticated. It is central to the
play that his attitude that 'A man has to make his own way. Has to
look after himself and his family too…' is discredited by the
confessions that the inspector draws out. Mr Birling feels no guilt
for the death of Eva Smith.

Then the inspector interrogates Sheila Birling.

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Sheila is one of the
most sensitive characters in this play, as she clearly becomes fully
aware of her responsibilities. Despite her parents, she is prepared to
change her selfish ways. Sheila Birling feels responsible for the
girl's death. 'Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide'; here
she tells the family that each one of us is responsible in one way or
the other.

Then the inspector comes over to Mrs Birling. Mrs Birling is described
as a 'rather' cold woman and her husbands social superior. She is
unsympathetic. Her lack of understanding of how other people live is
shown in her snobbish comments about, 'a girl of that sort'.

Then the inspector asks Gerald Croft. Gerald is self-confidant infront
of Mr and Mrs Birling. He is truthful and polite. When the inspector
asks Gerald he firstly refuses to answer, but then he realises that
the inspector knows everything, and so he tells the inspector
everything. Hearing the name in the beginning shocks him but now, he
knows that he is slightly responsible for the girl's death. He's
reaction to this was to be shocked. He did not know what to do as his
engagement with Sheila broke then, and he was not in a mood to talk to
anyone and goes for a walk. His reaction and behaviour are especially
the fact that he sides with Mr and Mrs Birling in trying to laugh the
whole thing off.

Then the inspector comes over to Eric Birling. Although the inspector
knew everything, he wanted to hear all of it from Eric. He asks him to
tell him everything, and so Eric has no choice but to tell the
inspector everything, as he knows that the inspector knows it all.
Eric knows he is guilty, but his reaction to this is as if he is the
only person guilty. BE SPECIFIC

The dramatic techniques, which J.B.Priestley uses, are, he uses many
techniques to heighten the tension. He also uses climaxes, such as
'when the inspector leaves at the end of Act 1, he leaves Sheila alone
with Gerald then returns with,'WELL?' This adds a sense of the
mystery, a dramatic tension. JB Priestley believes in pre cognition.

Mrs Birling has no responsibility, as she has only responsibility as
the chair, but only feels responsible for those who deserve help.
Sheila has responsibility, she recognises that as a powerful customer
she has an obligation not to let her personal feelings and ill temper
lead to misery of people. Eric has a little sense of responsibility.
Gerald shows some sense of responsibility. When he rescues the girl.
'Public men, have responsibilities as well as privileges' - this shows
that Mr Birling has no responsibility although he has got wealth. All
these are evidence of responsibility in this play.

To conclude, I would like to say that at the end, the phone call that
the Birlings received signifies that the whole thing could or may
happen again. Everything they have been going through may come up
again. When the last phone call arrived, everybody's faces showed
tension. However I know, having read this play, that the younger
characters will change. 'We often do on the young ones, they're more
impressionable'.
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