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an inspector calls

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An inspector calls: who is the inspector and why does he call? The following essay will question who the enigmatic inspector is and how J.B Priestly "the social critic", incorporates dramatically effective devices into the play. I would like to begin the essay with some background information about priestly and why it is he decided to write this play. John Boynton Priestly was a socialist writer who used an inspector calls to convey his message of equality among all the classes; he had strong political views and was concerned about the inequality between different statuses in society. Social Darwinism was widely practised all over the country and he felt it was wrong and unjustified. He was so concerned that he, along with others, set up a new political party called the commonwealth party. Priestly was a strong believer that future conflicts could only be avoided by mutual respect and understanding between the countries. Consequently, he became an active member of the early movement of the United Nations. The play was written during the Edwardian era, also known as Belle �poque -meaning beautiful era, when the British class system was at its most rigid. Coincidentally, it was at this time that socialism was beginning its rise which bought to attention the conditions of the poor and the status of women. It may have been due to Priestley's potent socialist beliefs that the distinctions in class were given in such detail in the play. ...read more.


The inspector arrives just after Birling makes his hearty speech which adds dramatic irony to the play as everything that he just proclaimed is soon questioned and disproved by the inspector. After Birling's demeanour has been cracked, his previous assurances emphasize how complacent the men of his generation are. Questioning in this manner can also allow the audience see what the effect of guilt is upon the characters. After the inspector has introduced himself and stated the reason for his presence he begins the narrative of Eva Smith and engages in dialogue with the Birling's. The inspector asks questions to which he already knows the answers but carries on enquiring anyway. This tells me that he does not question for the purpose of gaining information, but to force the Birling's and Gerald to put their hands up and reconcile to the sin that they have committed. The inspector has a photograph of a woman and from it Mr Birling admits that he once employed her in his factory but had sacked her over an industrial dispute over wages, "we were paying the usual rates and if they didn't like those rates, they could go and work somewhere else." Priestly builds up tension by only allowing one person to see the photograph at any one time which makes it more personal. This has the audience asking, why is he questioning in this manner? ...read more.


Priestly was known to be interested in theories concerning time and space, especially Ouspensky's theory that everybody lives out a life that they repeat for eternity, and Dunne's of precognition and the human experience of time. My personal belief is that the inspector was the voice of conscience "he was certainly our police inspector". Priestly insinuates that the inspector may have been more than human by using the second name of Goole, this could imply that he is ethereal or simply a hallucination of spiritual proportions. The story reaches its climax when Birling receives a call that a girl died of disinfectant and that an inspector was heading their way to question them. The story ends there and it is left at a cliff-hanger which is dramatic as he leaves the audience wanting more. It has also instilled the fear that the previous two hours may be repeated, this could be an example of a theory that Priestley was interested in where life is a constant cycle. Priestly used the inspector to convey his own socialist views and at the same time try to help people over-come self interest and begin to be more considerate to those around them. He wanted people to understand what the effects of social Darwinism was doing to society and did his best to try and stop it. It is didactic, in that man must take full responsibility for his actions as well as their consequences. He guides his future as he lives in his present. ...read more.

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