An Inspector Calls J.B. Priestly ‘An Inspector Calls’ written by J.B. Priestly, 1945, but was set in 1912. In 1912 JB priestly was only 18 years of age. As he had lived through both wars he could see what had actually happened in the time the play was set. In the play, he uses the characters to express his views about socialism and possibly about class divisions. The play would have been extremely poignant for audiences around 1945 as they would have just experienced this miserable and disastrous war. You may think this play would have had more of an influence on the audiences of 1945 than the audiences of 2002, but war still exists today.
For example the September 11th tragedy in New York, where two aeroplanes were purposely flown into the twin tower buildings and thousands of people were killed. This was an act of terrorism and it shows how even though the play has a strong, clear message and is still performed to audiences today we have still not learnt the lesson, people should learn to get along and look out for one another. This is why the play is still relevant today and attracts as many audiences now as the play “An Inspector Calls” did in the late 1940’s. My essay will show the role of the inspector, ‘Inspector Goole’ and how Priestly puts across his views. The play ‘An Inspector Calls’, is about the Birling family, who are quite well off, and they are celebrating their daughters engagement with her ‘to be’ husband, Gerald.
The father is happy that his daughter is getting married to him as Gerald’s father is the owner of a company who Birling would like to have closer to him. Maybe start a partnership. “You’re just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted”. The inspector comes to the celebration and breaks up the party, questioning the family on the death of a young girl, Eva Smith, who had died by drinking disinfectant. On the arrival of the inspector, he seems like a regular inspector, and the Birlings don’t seem to act as if much is wrong.
Mr. Birling has a few jokes with the inspector, expecting he was just there because of trouble with a warrant, until he gives the idea that they are being questioned on the suspicion of murder and concludes the whole family being cleverly interviewed by inspector Goole. We also get this feeling later on when Mr Birling talks about the war and how it’s a load of nonsense, “Nonsense nobody wants war”. The tension begins to rise when you realise that Gerald’s parents are not present at dinner, which is strange seeing as it is his engagement party. The thing that we never find out during this story is why they are not present.
He added dramatic irony into the play. He also used it to make a fool out of Mr. Birling with, perhaps just from stereotypical aspect, but maybe J.B. Priestley knows a person quite like Mr. Birling? He uses dramatic irony with great effect and even manages to make slight humour out of a tragedy. Mr. Birling spoke “Nobody wants war” – “Everything to lose and nothing to gain by war”; when the audience knows a while later two world wars were to occur. Arthur Birling also quotes the Titanic, saying that it’s unsinkable. The Titanic, again a while later, sunk after hitting an iceberg.
I will move on to speak about the inspector’s clever or cunning way of his interviewing technique. He gets every character on there own and shows them a photograph of Eva Smith, but is it the same photo that he shows to everyone? Then when the order of the family members he interviewed eventually gave away that he wasn’t actually an inspector but gave them a shock as he made the Birling family think how there actions actually affect people’s lives. Mrs birling feels no sadness even though she refused her help and would not let others help the girl but infact told them not to help she feels she was just.
“You’re not even sorry now, when you know what happened to the girl?” JB priestly is really clever in how he creates tension because to create tension for the audience the whole drama is set in one room, the dining room. It is here where the audience become involved deeply in the unfolding thriller and develop relationships with the different characters. We are told that: “The dining room is of a fairly large suburban house, it has good solid furniture of the period”. By only using one room Priestley does not confuse his audience with different sets and this allows the audience to concentrate more on the characters and the message of the play.
Personally I think that the whole family is responsible for the death of Eva Smith because the whole family has had the own part to play because even “innocent” mars Birling has her part in Eva’s death. But if anyone did have to be specifically had to be blamed then I would say either Eric of Gerald because they roles basically made her feel really low and like “scum”. I think that the family have learned that even if they are a high class family everyone deserves a bit a respect and not to treat lower class as “cheap” and “rubbish” and that they are human beings as well. If the audience have learnt anything it would be that people aren’t always what they seem because of what the Birling family did to Eva. I think that it was a very good play with a good plot and the characters are fantastic, however I think that JB priestly did write An inspector calls from “Dangerous Corner”.