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An Inspector Calls

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls The play 'An Inspector calls' was written by J.B Priestley in 1945 and is set on an evening in spring, in 1912. This is significant because it would give the audience an underlying sense of unease by the ironic references to the impossibility of war, which of course followed in 1914, and to the progress mankind is making, as represented by the Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg. At the beginning of January, when Priestley had just finished writing his script, there were no London theatres available, so Priestley sent the script to Moscow, where it was produced simultaneously in two theatres in 1945. It was then produced in London, the following year, at the New Theatre on the 1st October 1946. This was possible because in 1944 the tide of World War 2 had just changed in favour of the British, so the Old Vic Company (the company who presented the play in London), were able to move back to London because there were no longer any air raids. This play is set out in 3 Acts. The main setting of the play, the Birling's dining-room, in their fictional home in Brumley, an industrial city in the North Midlands, is constant throughout. The main themes in this play are that of Women's rights, class and social responsibility. At first, the genre of the play seems to be that of a simple, detective thriller; however, after seeing the involvement of all the members, the genre turns to that of a 'whodunnit' play, with the inspector finding out who was mainly to blame for Eva Smith's death. The opening scene starts off in a room with good solid furniture of the period. There is a fireplace in the corner of the room and seats around a table where most of the action will take place. There should also be a high armchair where the inspector sits, to show he is in charge and higher than them. ...read more.

Middle

If I were to direct Sheila's monologue the lighting would be dark and hard, almost like a spotlight on Sheila. Sheila would be standing up and talking face to face with the inspector and the others would be in semi circle around them so they audience would be able to see them all but Sheila will be central and all the audiences attention would be on her. Women at this time were seen as being delicate, fragile and obedient to their husbands or fathers. Women were trying to get rights the same as men, beginning the Suffrage movement. Under Roman law, which influenced later British law, husband and wife were regarded as one, with the woman the "possession" of the man. As such, a woman had no legal control over her person, her own land and money, or her children. Mrs. Birling is a middle class woman of considerable influence who is involved in good works, considered a suitable occupation for a lady in society. This is shown when the Inspector says "a prominent member - of the Brumley women's Charity Organization". Women of higher classes did not work, but did only charitable work. This was seen as acceptable as it was a caring role that fitted with the idealised Victorian view, still held then, of women as mothers and carers. Sheila follows this path by not working, the only occupation mentioned which she does is shopping. Daisy/Eva is a working class girl, possibly an orphan, who has to work for a living and is seen to be completely at the mercy of men. Pre-marital sex was frowned upon in the middle and upper classes if you were female, but not if you were male which may be an attitude still held today in many respects. This was due to fear of pregnancy outside of marriage as there was little contraception. The Moral code of the time was ladies were supposed to remain virgins until they married. ...read more.

Conclusion

He could have been a real inspector, a God avenging angel, a vision of what Priestley wanted himself to be, a relation of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, a time traveler or he could have been a dramatic device used to drive the plot onwards. This may have been why it was 'sourly noticed' by the London theatre critics, because the audience did not understand what Priestley intended the Inspector to be. The time theories that may have influenced the play were those of D.P.Ouspensky who said 'Experience is a cycle of life and we can only escape if we change for the better'. This is telling us to change to help ourselves so we can progress in life. Another theory was that we could 'see forward in time as well as looking back, consequently we could change actions for the future'. 'An Inspector Calls' is concerned with themes of power, morality, and social responsibility. The need for society to change is a central theme of this play. In it, Priestly emphasizes the need for future generations to act and prevent further bloodshed. He hoped "An Inspector Calls" would contribute to public understanding which might lead to societal restructuring along with more socialist principles to insure that all the members of the society were aware of their social responsibility. These themes in 'An Inspector Calls', although written in the 1940's and based in 1912, are still, incredibly relevant in today's society. Even though we have evolved from those times, social indifference is still the predominant influence. Lessons could have been learned from the past and a new future should have been created. This has not happened, and it is beyond the scope of this analysis to determine the reasons why. It is sufficient to say that An Inspector Calls illuminates the problems and offers food for thought. Contrary to Margaret Thatcher's view of no such thing as society existing, An Inspector Calls is about all families and all individuals; this wider reference shows that it presents a microcosm of an array of societies. Jay Parekh 10 YG English Coursework ...read more.

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