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'A man is a member of a community and the fact that he is a member of a community enlarges his stature and increases his opportunities' - Discuss how Priestley explores and dramatises this belief in 'An Inspector Calls'?

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Introduction

GCSE English Coursework 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B. Priestley. 'A man is a member of a community and the fact that he is a member of a community enlarges his stature and increases his opportunities' Discuss how Priestley explores and dramatises this belief in 'An Inspector Calls'? In J.B. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls' the themes of community are deep running and are a reflection of his socialist morals and ideals. Priestley uses the word community as a representation of society as a whole. In the Inspector's final speech, he says, "We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." Through the inspector, Priestley is exploring the point that everyone should be a member of a universal community. One that is devoid of social classes and the prejudices and injustices that a class dominated society brings. These feelings about the ideals of community were dominated by Priestley political beliefs and his contempt for the self centred and blinkered upper classes. Priestley explores the theme of community in the Edwardian society of 1912, so he can use dramatic irony to highlight the point that, "if men will not learn that lesson, they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." The lesson he refers to is that 'we don't live alone' and he uses the image of fire, blood, and anguish as a biblical reference to the apocalypse or perhaps an image of hell. ...read more.

Middle

Priestley uses the Inspector as his vehicle for social protest and portrays him as an angel of judgement, in the way he appears omniscient to the characters in the play and to the audience. This idea is backed up by the way he is more concerned with the morality of the situation than the legality of it and his biblical references such as, 'fire and blood and anguish' and the way he talks about the past, present, and future in his closing speech. The name that Priestley has chosen for his voice of social conscience is Goole and this gives a mysterious, ghostly image. This makes the Inspector seem like a supernatural figure or the embodiment of the conscience of the characters and a representation of morality. Eva represents the victims of classist society and this is pointed out in the Inspector's closing speech when he says, "One Eva Smith has gone -but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us." Priestley uses Sheila as the voice of conscience for the Birling family and also Edwardian society and this is seen in the line, "I think it was a terrible thing to do. Perhaps that spoilt everything for her." ...read more.

Conclusion

Priestley uses the theme of time in several of his plays including 'Dangerous Corner', 'I Have Been Here Before', and 'Time and the Calways'. Similarly to 'An Inspector Calls', these plays are about the effects an individual's actions over a passage of time. Other similarities to the theme of time in 'An Inspector Calls' and Priestley's other plays are found in 'Eden End', written by Priestley in1934, but set in 1912 like 'An Inspector Calls' and allowing the audience to look back and critically analyse past actions. In 'An Inspector Calls' these past actions are those of society's outlook at the idea of community. Priestley's use of dramatic irony can be seen throughout the play, particularly in the first act and the Inspector's final speech to the Birlings. Priestley uses dramatic irony to show the idiocy of the upper classes and how their actions towards to ideas of community in 1912 led to the problems the audience face in 1946 when it was first produced in Britain. You can see this use of dramatic irony in several lines where Birling says, "the world's developing so fast it will make war impossible", "the Titanic... absolutely unsinkable", and "in 1940...by that time you'll be living in a world... that'll have forgotten all these silly little war scares." He also makes ironic references to the Germans not wanting war when the political climate in at this time was pointing clearly to a war with Germany. ...read more.

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