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An Inspector Calls

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'An Inspector Calls' was written in the winter of 1945, by J. B. Priestley. Priestley set the play though in 1912, and having lived through both world wars, it is quite significant that the play was set before World War I and World War II and was in fact written after both of the world wars. Priestley wrote his plays having a social and political mind, because he grew up among his father's friends, and many of their political discussions have featured in his plays as in 'An Inspector Calls'. 'An Inspector Calls' is a modern morality play and has the style of a detective thriller, and the moral issues Priestley is trying to convey, are sustained throughout the play. The play begins in the Birling's house, around a table, celebrating Sheila, Mr. Birling's daughter's engagement to Gerald Croft a wealthy business man. The evening's celebrations are soon intruded though by the sharp ring of the front door bell, and in comes the harsh looking character of a police inspector. He has come to investigate the suicide of a young working-class woman, named Eva Smith, and eventually under the questioning and inducement of the Inspector each member of the family reveals their involvement in Eva Smith's death. Priestley's main aim in writing 'An Inspector Calls' was to teach the reader about the morals of responsibility and to teach them to treat all people with the same deserved respect no matter who they are. 'An Inspector Calls' has a very similar plot to a medieval morality play named 'Everyman', and Priestley probably based his morality play on 'Everyman'. ...read more.


This made Sheila feel jealous and angry. She was angered even more when she thought she caught sight of Eva Smith smiling at the assistant as if to say, 'Doesn't she look awful', while Sheila was trying on the dress. Sheila admits that she was jealous and angered by Eva Smith when she answers the Inspector after he says: "In fact, in a kind of way, you might be said to have been jealous of her." To this Sheila replies: "Yes I suppose so." Sheila was therefore guilty of wrath and envy. She was obviously jealous of Eva Smith's good looks and was furious with the fact that she thought she saw Eva Smith being impertinent, when she could have being genuinely friendly. After this, she went to the manager at Milwards and again showed her anger and envy by telling him that: "...if they didn't get rid of that girl I'd never go near the place again..." At the beginning of the play Sheila is pleased about her engagement to Gerald and is happily enjoying the evening. Sheila though is heavily affected by the Inspector's teachings, and when Sheila hears about her father's actions she questions him and informs him that: "... these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people." This clearly shows she cares about the working class and feels they should be treated with respect like everyone else. As the play continues Sheila feels guiltier and is ashamed about what she did, but after being informed about her wrong doing she repents of her actions and feels partly responsible for Eva Smith's death. ...read more.


Finally he tries to convey that what everyone did was wrong by saying: "And I agree with Sheila. It frightens me too." This quote refers to the way in which the others talk, and the younger members of the family have seen the errors of their ways, and are unable to accept the others indifferent attitudes to Eva Smith's death. Ultimately Mr. Birling's, Mrs. Birling's, and Gerald's attitudes have been unchanged by the words of the Inspector and accept no responsibility for Eva Smith's death. Eric and Sheila, the younger family members, have been heavily affected by the Inspector's words and feel guilty, ashamed and repent of what they did. Throughout the play the Inspector seems all-knowing. Every time he speaks to one of the other characters he gives the impression that he knows exactly what has happened. The way in which he asks his questions and gives information about Eva's life influences the characters to reveal their participation with her death. This is shown when Sheila says: "...some how he makes you." I personally have been profoundly affected by the play. It has made me more aware of my responsibility, and has taught me to treat all people with respect. The final speech has taught me to work with other people as a community or we will live in a world of war between races. The Inspector's message is a highly important one in today's society, because of the many different social issues that occur. Unfortunately the message Priestley is trying to convey about responsibility and the treatment of others around us is very much idealistic in today's modern society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jonathan Turner ...read more.

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