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An Inspector Calls

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In 1945, J.B. Priestley was 51 and felt very strongly about the state of government in England at that moment in time and thought that people were being exploited in England, so he had some very liberal views. He expressed many of these views to the public in the form of a book called, 'An Inspector Calls'. The play 'An Inspector Calls' was written by J.B. Priestley, in 1945 but was set in 1912. The play takes place in the Birling household on one evening after a family celebration. The celebration is of the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft. It is just after dinner when an inspector visits their house investigating the suicide of a young woman. As the play unravels we see that all members of the family are somehow involved in the suicide. For many reasons, an audience may consider this play a detective story and nothing else. It fits with the stereotypical detective story format in a number of ways. Firstly it is generally about conducting an inquiry into the suicide of a young, working-class woman. "Two hours ago a young woman died in the Infirmary. She'd been taken there this afternoon because she'd swallowed some strong disinfectant." This sentence also means that the death is announced very close to the beginning of the play, another trademark of detective stories. From the beginning it appears to be a mystery story but ironically we find out that they are all responsible. ...read more.


A man who at once creates an impression of solidity and determination, also he has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking. The Inspector's arrival interrupts the conversation between Mr Birling, Eric along with Gerald and puts the whole family in dismay because the Inspector has not come to see them for the reason that they thought, which was to do with some trouble about a warrant. Therefore, the entire family becomes very distressed when they discover that the Inspector has in fact come to question them about Eva Smith's suicide. The Inspector is very blunt to all the characters that try to change the subject and does not allow the topic to be avoided. He only shows a picture of Eva Smith to the person he is interviewing in the order in which they saw Eva Smith to try to help them to recollect her and he creates suspense by doing this. This happens with the exception of Eric Birling as Eric's mother, Sybil Birling comments that the father of Eva Smith's child should be exposed and made an example of. Although unknown to Sybil Birling at the time her son, Eric Birling is the father of the child, the Inspector leaves interrogating Eric until after Sybil Birling has finished her speech so that he can teach her the dangers of prejudice and social snobbery, both of which she had expressed towards Eva Smith. ...read more.


He composes you to think and puts across his socialist messages, which to me is the main point of the play. He is additionally, very effective and adds a great deal of drama. In 1992 this play was adapted by Stephen Daldry's, royal national theatre, stage production, which explores Priestley's themes and ideas in a very detailed fashion. In the 'An Inspector Calls' book, there is a constant covering of mystery around the Inspector, as you never know who he is and why he is there. However, the way he acts leaves hints to the answers of these questions. For example, he could be Eva smith's dead child if it had lived, trying to make the Birlings suffer for what they did and trying to make them realise what they did wrong or he could be a time traveller, who has travelled back to try and narrow the social classes, in an attempt to prevent the World Wars from ever starting, "then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish!" The Inspector being a time traveller is definitely the case in the 1992 stage production, because the Inspector is dressed up in 1945 style clothing. When the Inspector is introduced in the stage production, he looks very sinister, as he is wearing a trench coat and a dark hat. In conclusion, I believe that Stephen Daldry's 1992 production of 'An Inspector Calls' explores Priestley's themes and ideas very well, as it includes all of the messages conveyed in the original text, such as the Inspector's purpose being to narrow the social classes. Kamaldeep Gill ...read more.

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