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An Inspector Calls

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"AN INSPECTOR CALLS" I am researching a play called "An Inspector Calls" written by J.B. Priestly in 1944. It is a play set in 1912 about a rich, upper class family suddenly being confronted with a death. In this essay I will comment on Priestly's main aim in the writing and how he successfully achieves it, how the family deal with the matter and how they feel about it. The first note to make is that this play is full of social inequalities and there is a lot of friction between the upper class and the working class. In this play the Birlings, who are the family in question, lead a prosperous life of a high class family at the top of the social ladder. They feel that their position in society is of greater importance than the lower and working class. Because of this they treat the lower classes in a hostile and unsuitable manner to our standards today. They feel that the lower classes are there to be workers, as in factories (as this is Mr Birling's major business) or other places of work as cheap labour and belong to the employers as their possessions however if anything was to happen with the workers then the people in question would act in a different manner as is explained in this essay. Towards the end of act 1 Mr Birling is talking to Gerald, the son of his business rival and soon to be married to his daughter Sheila, and he is remarking on the fact that he will soon be getting a knighthood and has been Lord Major of the town for two years. ...read more.


Sheila's reaction to the inspectors summery of the time that Eva Smith spent with Mr Birling's company is that of disgust towards the social inequality of how she was treated. She believes that it is wrong that girls should work as cheap labour and feels sickened at the fact that they are treated as just a way to make money. Her outlook on life is one that all people are the same (like the inspector's views) and the whole matter of superiority is complete stupidity. This is shown when she quotes to Mr Birling "But these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people!" which proves her care towards this affair. However her treatment of Eva Smith was slightly different than what she feels. Firstly she disband her from the company because she was slightly jealous of her more than any other reason. But when she heard the news of her death from the inspector she felt sickened with herself for such actions. She also felt guilt that her jealousy could cause her to do such a thing and her position at the top of the social ladder had undermined a young girl such as this. It was only at the time when the inspector referred to Eva Smith as Daisy Renton, because she changed her name, was it that Gerald Croft suddenly realised who he was talking about. At this point Gerald became rather worried and uncomfortable because he knew this person that he thought was called Daisy Renton. ...read more.


This is a personification of the point that sometimes people need a second chance and in the case of the Birling family that is exactly what is happening. The way in which the detective story convention exposes guilt is that the detective slowly forces more and more information out of the suspect in the classic method of false innocence, false guilt, true innocence then true guilt until the denouement is reached. The dramatisizm in this is that the story is gradually reviled through the suspects and pieced together. Throughout the questioning by the inspector other bits of information maybe leaked and surprising circumstances may occur. Another reason for the impact of using a detective is that the other suspects may learn stories that they didn't know and friction could transpire between those characters. An example of this in the play is when Gerald reveals that he has spent time with Eva Smith without Sheila knowing. This then could spiral off into another story which would all contribute to the dramatic sense of a detective fiction story. My conclusion is that J.B. Priestly has managed to put the fact of social inequalities and the suspense of a detective story across in a clever and successful way. The actions that unfold at the end of the play reveals the true feelings that all of the characters have actually felt throughout the whole play and the introduction of a detective and death into this family life has disrupted all the norms and qualities that an upper-class family of the 1912's have. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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