In this essay I am going to explain about how a 1945 audience would have reacted to a play called the “an inspector calls” set in 1912. My initial point of view to why JB Priestly set his play in 1912 was due to everything that had occurred in the time span from 1912 and 1945 which included both world wars the sinking of the “unsinkable titanic” and the British strikes.
The reason for why I find it so important for the play to be set in such a time is because a 1912 audience may think the play is normal and wouldn’t understand the whole meaning of what JB Priestly is trying to put forward, although as the play is set after all these disasters, nearly every one in the 1945 audience could relate their personal life to the play due to the majority of people in 1945 having lost somebody close to them due to the World Wars also the audience would be able to differentiate the factors of society and how unfair it was due to social barriers being created. My interpretation for why JB Priestly wrote the play was for him to put forward his ideas on how unfair society was. He wanted more equality for the lower classes so that everyone should not look after him or herself but help each other, resulting in everyone having a decent standard of living.
The reaction of a 1945 audience may consist of confusion at first and then unexpectedness of the fact that the normal stereotype of a play called “An inspector calls” would consist of a murder and then an enquiry and investigation although this incorporates a story of a successful family who are celebrating an engagement. Then incomes a very mysterious detective who makes it very obvious that he wants to be anonymous especially when he announces his name as Mr Goole. This primarily arouses a lot of suspicion as the name Goole can be associated with ghosts or spirits. As well as this, the play creates a lot of dramatic irony due to Mr Birling portraying to everyone that he knows everything like there “won’t be a war” and the “strikes will be over” and that they have “past the worst of it”, I personally find that this may be true for a lot of upper class citizens at the time of 1912 but in 1945 this would be seen as poposterous.
Also a lot of views are expressed. I find that JB Priestly attempts to inserts part of his views in the play to show that every body should be looking after everybody. I seem to find that JB Priestly represents him self as the inspector so he could speak to the audience via the inspector and make sure he’s grabbing their attention. As well as this I think that he is trying to make the audience empathise with the main character Eva Smith because she represents normal people of the time who had to suffer throughout the problems of class and society existing too much. JB Priestly also makes Mr Birling a representation of the upper class obnoxious people who rather care more about removing any association of scandal from them even if someone has died in the balance.
Mr birling is proven to be very boastful about himself and his status in life like when MR Birling immediately tried to intimidate the inspector when he inserted his authority. For example, Mr Birling first meets the inspector he recognizes the inspector is new and then he puts forward his authority and status and says that “I was an olderman for years and lord mayor two years ago so I know the Brumley police officers pretty well” here Mr Birling basically implicates that he is a big shot round here and I know you’re boss so watch step although it is shown that this type of intimidation or any type of intimidation will not work on the inspector.
Within this play the stage directions have an important role as they show the house of the Birling’s to be in suburbs showing it’s in a middle class area and that it “belongs to a prosperous manufacturer”. Also it seems to be showing the members of the family to be very pleased with themselves and happy, like Sheila “is a very pretty girl and happy with life” but later it is shown that she is not so happy.
There are other relevant areas which may not be recognized by the audience like the significance of the ringing of the door bell at that particular time right in the middle of Mr Birling speech in which he was explaining that “a man has to make his own way” and he also said that “its as if everybody had to look after everybody else as if we are all mixed up in a beehive and all that nonsense”. At this time I can perfectly imagine the audience would be thinking what a load of nonsense after the world wars every on was in a tight knit community in which every body was looking after every body else but I am not sure that all of the audience would understand the significance when the door bell rings straight into his speech which kind of cuts Mr Birling up like its as if the person at the door knew what he was saying and couldn’t bear to listen on, this gives an early impression to me and the audience of what may be coming next.
My interpretation of what the audience may feel about Mr Birling and his speeches is a person who is selfish and has no respect for others and seems to be too wrapped up in his own world to be bothered to even care about anyone else. Then comes his very confident speeches which for tell the future for the Birling’s which is to be very bright and is found to be a “very good time to be marrying” it is shown that Mr Birling has an answer for everything he has the solutions for all epidemics that may occur in the future “You’ll hear some people say that war’s inevitable.
And to that I say-fiddle sticks!” here is moment when I can perfectly imagine the audience being dumbfounded because they just lived through two world wars and this man doesn’t have a clue he speaks of himself as a “hard headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he’s about”. This to me may show the audience how far they have come and what has now changed because it may seem that the barriers between society have been broken after the wars and Mr Birling philosophy is no longer being preached as everyone did believe in being a in a community where “everybody has to look after every body else like bees in a hive”.