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20th Century Drama Coursework: An Inspector Calls

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20th Century Drama Coursework: An Inspector Calls How does Priestley convey his message, 'We are responsible for each other', in his play An Inspector Calls? An Inspector calls was written in 1945 but was set in 1912 a period still known as the Edwardian era. The Edwardian era was regarded nostalgically as the last period of security and stability before the horror of World War I. As the play was set after World War I and II, the audiences would know of the deprivation, hardships and bereavements of the two wars. However, at the start of the play Priestley manipulates his audience into being taken back into 1912 to a time of peace, stability and luxuries. Priestley does this by the naturalistic setting of the play which is established clearly in the stage directions. However, the Edwardian era contained, Cracks. Priestley exposes a complacency which ignored clues and hints to the future upheaval were overlooked and ignored. These cracks can be seen in the Birling family even though the family appears to be strong and secure, tensions soon become apparent. Priestley manipulates this false security to raise the dramatic force of his play. Just as he reveals the smug complacency of the Birlings to be false through dramatic irony, he also lures his audience into this complacency by means of his naturalistic set and sense of nostalgia. ...read more.


Coming from a working class background himself, he feels compassion for the factory workers who are exploited by industrialists such as Arthur Birling. The opening stage directions of the play indicate a naturalistic set so the audience is drawn into the seeming stability of the Edwardian era. An example is 'the dining room a fairly large suburban house' with 'good solid furniture' sustained and very comfortable. However there are subtle signs of cracks and tensions the room is not 'cosy and homelike'. This sense of complacency is reinforced by the lighting, as the lighting should be 'pink and intimate' until the inspector arrives and then the lighting should change to be 'harder and brighter'. The pink lighting used to describe the intimacy could also suggest a blindness to reality, 'seeing the world through rose tinted spectacles'. The brighter and harder lighting when the inspector arrives gives a sense of being in a police interrogation room. Both the characters and the audience will have their consciences interrogated. Priestley uses the effect of the opening line of the play said by Arthur Birling 'Giving us the port Edna? That's right.' to convey immediately the ghastliness of class consciousness This conveys Birlings condescending superior attitude to the working class. Priestley suggests that Edna's situation is that she is that dependant on her employment; if she lost her job she would probably end up in a work house. ...read more.


Priestley sets the play in the fictional industrial city of Brumley. Brumley is probably typical of many towns where the factory owners, who provided much-needed employment, were able to run their businesses exactly as they wanted to. The number of women who are poor and in need of help is indicated by the existence of the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation. Such organisations, which relied upon the financial support of rich people, were frequently found in large industrial towns and cities during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It is interesting that whether someone received help depended on whether the women like Mrs Birling thought that they deserved help or whether they deserved to suffer. Throughout the play priestly aims to convey the message 'We are all responsible for each other.' Priestly tries to with this message warn of the dangers of complacency and self satisfaction and smugness that we all need to learn from our mistakes. The audience watching this play would understand how important it is not to be greedy but be as one by supporting each other, creating a sense of unity instead of exploiting people or treating other classes differently. During both wars there was no class division there was just togetherness and the aim of destroying an enemy who threatens peace and freedom. Without the wars families like the Birlings would have gone on exploiting and stereotyping working class people. ?? ?? ?? ?? Oliver Cockayne 10N 1 ...read more.

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