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‘An Inspector Calls’, by J.B. Priestley;

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Introduction

English GCSE coursework: 'An Inspector Calls', by J.B. Priestley; Q. 1. Inspector Goole "An Inspector Calls" by J.B. Priestley was written in post-world war II Britain but is set in 1912, a point in time of great innovation and progress, but also political instability and great threat. With "Titanic" about to make its maiden voyage and trouble in the Balkans about to immerse the rest of Europe, it is a fitting time for Priestley to take advantage of his audience's benefit of hindsight and use the inspector as a vessel for his socialist views. The opening dialogue of the play is conducted around an extremely large table with which Priestley intends to show that although the characters were a family, they weren't close, and instead were more formal, even while celebrating with each other. The stage directions at the beginning portray them as being very 'pleased with themselves,' making a good cover for the deceit and corruption hidden behind the silk cravats and elaborate gowns. The first scene sets the mood that Priestley wanted to linger throughout the whole play. ...read more.

Middle

The Inspector points this out by saying "you're offering money at the wrong time Mr. Birling." Priestley captivates the audience by the use of climaxes, the slow unravelling of the plot and use of the detective-whodunit style before capitalising with a shocking revelation. As the tension increases, so does the passion. The Inspector is anything but plain and regimented in his investigation, treating all characters equally, showing them no special deference because of their social status. The Inspector has a moral outlook, making him different from an ordinary Inspector in that he is more concerned with right and wrong than with what is legal. He coolly tells Birling, for example, that 'it's better to ask for the earth (as workers might do) than to take it (implying Mr Birling does)'. The snobbish dialogue, between the two Inspectors visits, confronts Goole's irregularities, and possible supernatural origins, "it's queer, very queer." but is then forgotten - reflecting the confident English upper-class values of English-defined normality. The Inspector also tells the characters that 'if you're easy with me, I'm easy with you' - he has compassion for those who are willing to accept their responsibility, but not forgiveness, because, after all, 'the girl's [still] dead'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Priestley is trying to rouse the audience into taking a long, hard, critical look at themselves, - money and power are supposed to be a privilege - not a weapon to make yourself look big. He is saying that there should be more equality and we shouldn't take our lifestyles for granted. We should also take responsibility for our actions or we could end up in an awful situation, just as the Birlings and Gerald did when they received the phone call at the end of the play to say an inspector was on his way round. Priestley is trying to convert people by using this play as a socialist piece of propaganda - only showing the necessary parts of the story to create the desired effect. Priestley wants the Inspector to dominate the audience. At the time the drama was conceived World War II had scarred society and European minds. The play was a moralistic mystery that made the audience think. The Inspector himself is used as a dramatic device in that the play gives you time to change your actions towards others, that is before "An Inspector calls" on you, to teach you in 'blood and fire and in anguish.' By Liam J. O'Dea 20/01/02 ...read more.

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