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A Comparison of The Treatment of Selected Scenes of 'An Inspector Calls' by J. B. Priestly

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A Comparison of The Treatment of Selected Scenes of 'An Inspector Calls' by J. B. Priestly John Boynon Priestly was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on 13th September 1894 and died 80 years later on August 14, 1984. He published over 120 books, married three times and was a socialist who thought that people should share their wealth or a t the least help the needy. His message that he tries to communicate to us in this play is that all of us have a social obligation and responsibility to help, act fairly and think about the welfare of others; not to live in isolation and think how our actions affect others. His quote 'things could really improve if only people were to become more socially responsible for the welfare of others' backs this up. The text of the play was set in 1912 before 1st world war but was written with hindsight in 1945. The play is set in the past so that the social criticism he is making is easier for people to take in, and so that they don't feel attacked because it is other people in the past. However, because it is not directly aimed at them, some people may feel that it is not relevant and that they don't need to take action or take notice. There is no other plot in this play so we are not distracted from the issue so his message gets through clearer. ...read more.


He does this by boasting to assert his status 'I was an alderman for years - and Lord Mayor two years ago - and I'm still on the bench' and by being physically higher than him in the play. This doesn't work because the Inspector knows what is coming to them, doesn't care or allows himself to be influenced about Birling's titles and has morals on his side so he doesn't need to be forceful so he keeps calm. He knows that their secrets will come out and destroy them and this is metaphorically shown by the director in the play by the actors having the risk of actually falling off the house. With the higher classes; also came the assumption and expectance of being allowed to do what they want 'Both Gerald rise to have a look... They are surprised and rather annoyed.' The characters in the play are rather ugly which doesn't fit to the text 'Gerald Croft is an attractive chap' but in the film they aren't ugly because the black and white film was set in a generation were movie stars meant to be handsome. In the play, Sheila tries to run away but the Inspector gently but firmly pushes her and forces her to confess. He is half in the light, half in the shadow because he is helping her face up to what she did. She is dressed all in white, which makes her na�ve, pure and innocent, and as her gloves are also white, it accentuates her hand gestures so we are drawn to the fidgeting. ...read more.


The Birlings go back into their house and you can hear hideous laughter coming from it showing that they haven't learnt and have no compassion for anybody. They make fun of the kids in a mocking tone because they think they're overreacting to the situation. Neither the play nor the film is true to the ending. They are all supposed to be there at the end when they receive the telephone call ' As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls' but in the play the curtain falls leaving just Sheila isolated at the front because she is the only one who has changed. When you think it's finished the curtain keeps going, showing a different setting with just one kid standing in the house where previously it had been packed. Sheila turns around and sees that things will change. It is also the only time when you hear their normal voices because they are shocked. In the film the inspector before being locked in the study gives them a sardonic smile as if he knows what is happening. When they find out the truth about him, he mysteriously disappears with the chair he was sitting in still rocking. The music has a dramatic tone in both things and is staccato in the film at the end. Different images were used from the text in both the film and play because the directors were trying to get the message across to different audiences; but it is still the same message. Natalie T 20th Century Drama Coursework 17/02/03 Page 1 of 5 ...read more.

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