• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An Inspector Calls has been identified as a play of social criticism. How does Priestley use the theatrical device of the Inspector to convey his criticisms of Mr Birling in Act One of the play?

Extracts from this document...


"An Inspector Calls" has been identified as a play of social criticism. How does Priestley use the theatrical device of the Inspector to convey his criticisms of Mr Birling in Act One of the play? "An Inspector Calls" by J.B. Priestley is a play of social criticism. Inspector Goole visits the Birling household to inquire into the apparent suicide of a woman named Eva Smith. He questions each of them on their social crimes. The Inspector warns the Birlings that if they do not change their ways, all of society will be punished in "fire and blood and anguish". Priestley was well known for expressing social criticism in his work and he especially liked writing plays as they seemed to have more of an immediate impact on an audience. The play was written in 1944, produced in 1945 but is set in 1912 which helps Priestley convey his social criticisms. 1912 was part of the Edwardian era where a small percentage was extremely wealthy but the majority was in poverty. The national wealth was unevenly distributed. Skilled workers, especially women, were paid very little, around �1 a week. There was no welfare state or National Health Service and workers had no rights whatsoever. ...read more.


"It's too late, she's dead." It is vital that Sheila is not helped to feel better about the past if she is to change her attitude in the future. Moreover, social class prejudices and distinction is greatly criticised in the character Mrs Birling. She comes into contact with Eva when she appealed for help to the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation. Mrs Birling is prejudiced against Eva because she used the Birling name which she believed to be "gross impertinence". The Inspector criticises her the most, "You've had children. You must have realised what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face." She thinks Eva is inferior socially and morally, "As if a girl like that would ever refuse money!" Eva does have a moral code as she doesn't take stolen money and wouldn't marry the one who made her pregnant because he didn't love her. Furthermore, people with a lack of a moral code are strongly criticised. This is shown in Eric who does not seem to have a moral code although that point could be argued against. He coerced Eva into having sex with him and stole money which is his father's main concern. ...read more.


He helps Mr Birling to recognise Eva with a photo, names her as an individual and presents the consequences so Birling can see what he has done. Birling objects to it being his fault but is contradicted by the Inspector. "I can't agree with you there. Because what has happened to her then may have determined what happened to her afterwards. A chain of events." The Inspector focuses on Birling's motives which surprises him as the Inspector asks, "Why?". Birling has never had to explain himself or reflect on the consequences of his actions. The Inspector is more critical of the older Birlings such as Mr and Mrs Birling and straight to the point, "She was here, alone, friendless, almost penniless, desperate. You've had children. You must have known what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face.". He is forceful with Sheila and Eric because they are younger, more impressionable and can change their attitude, "Just used her for the end of a drunken evening, as if she were an animal, a thing, not a person. No, you won't forget." In the Inspector's final speech before he makes his exit he says, "And the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. How does Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device in "An Inspector Calls", ...

    The Inspector is the opposite of Birling. Where Birling's predictions are wrong, the Inspector predicts that if people don't learn their responsibilities, they will be taught in "fire and blood and anguish". This prediction refers to World War I most obviously, but also can refer to World War II.

  2. An Inspector Calls. How does J.B Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic ...

    Goole makes everything to go his way with no light-hearted actions. Morality plays were typically religious plays written in the Middle Ages teaching the wrongs and rights in life. They tended to make reference to the seven deadly sins (pride, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth and covetousness)

  1. How does Priestley use time as a dramatic device in 'An Inspector Calls'? How ...

    Public confession of responsibility-um?" showing his support with Mrs Birling's view on the treatment of the father of Eva's baby. Hence, Priestley displays the hypocrisy of the upper class and Mrs Birling's dual standards; her belief that what applies to the upper classes and most importantly her family and her reputation, may not apply to another.

  2. "An Inspector Calls" has been called a play of social criticism. What is being ...

    It is quite clear that Mr Birling places a great deal of importance on social class and outward appearances to the extent that it affects his relationship with Eric. Mr Birling is harsh and critical to Eric calling him 'a damned fool' because Eric hadn't told him about the stolen money.

  1. Free essay

    "AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of ...

    Sheila at the start of the drama would be disliked by the audience for abusing her power and status, but will feel remorseful to her as she appears to be sincerely sorry. Priestly then changed the mood, and begins to question Shelia's fianc�e, Gerald Croft.

  2. How does Priestley use the character of Birling to convey his views in "An ...

    Birling is made an unlikable character by Priestley through many of his characteristics and appearance. He is described at the start as a "heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties but rather provincial in his speech." Birling is proud of his achievements and status, and boasts about them, but mainly fails to impress the Inspector when talking to him.

  1. Why do you think that An Inspector Calls still remains popular today? An Inspector ...

    But back in 1912, if a woman was to have a baby without being married then it was seriously looked down upon. I think that perhaps one of the main issues in the play is the way in which people were classed.

  2. How does Priestley create drama and convey his concerns in 'An Inspector Calls'?

    tell us that the lighting has changed and everything is more hard and bright. It is a very dramatic moment when the Inspector enters; the lighting is used to suggest this. Priestley says that he gives an "impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work