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An Inspector Calls

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Introduction

J. B. Priestly was born in Bradford in 1894. He fought in the First World War. His novels, The Good Companion and Angel Pavement announced him as a successful writer. He penned several plays, including An Inspector Calls in 1947. He died in 1984, aged 90. Throughout his life, J. B. Priestly was a committed Socialist and he was also interested and fascinated by the passage of time. In An Inspector Calls we meet the Birling family and Gerald Croft who are celebrating an engagement when they are interrupted by a police inspector who wants to ask them some questions about a mysterious and gruesome suicide. What follows is an unlikely chain of events as each character is linked to the dead girl in a way that could cause them trouble, and then we have a final dramatic twist. This play shows the difference in society in 1912, how people were expected to help only their families. If you were poor, then it was your own fault. This play shows how the playwright believed that Socialism and helping others was the way forward. Priestly uses this play to convey his message of socialism and unity within the community. ...read more.

Middle

Birling even says, "Still, I can't accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn't it?", while Shiela and Eric accept that they did wrong and it does not matter that the girls might not be dead. Similarly, when Eric leaves the dining room and Mrs. Birling is being questioned by the Inspector, Priestly constructs the scene so that Mrs. Birling utterly condemns her own son, saying that, "If you'd take some steps to find this young man and make sure that he's compelled to confess in public his responsibility... then you really would be doing your duty.", even as Shiela works out what is happening and warns her to stop. When she finds out that she was condemning her own son, Mrs. Birling instantly retracts what she was saying and instead says, "I don't believe it. I won't believe it..." This is effective in preach Priestly's message because it shows that only few people benefit from self-help and that with socialism and community all can benefit. The play begins with the family having their celebration and with a happy mood prevailing, when the Inspector enters, the mood changes to become more sombre and threatening. ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes him appear mysterious and powerful to them as they wonder how he is doing this. The Inspector is constructed by Priestly as a catalyst who represents Priestly's own socialist views. He shows sympathy for those who recognise they have done wrong, while he heaps misery on the others. The Inspector also seems more concerned with whether what happened to Eva Smith is morally right or wrong rather than legally right or wrong because he actually never speaks of a crime. In conclusion, Priestly constructs drama and tension in many different ways. He uses the time gap of 35 years from the time in which the play is set to the time in which it was written to make fun of some of the characters, especially Mr. Birling when he says things such as, "The Kaiser doesn't want war", "There won't be a war.", "Soon war will be impossible.", "The Titanic is unsinkable", "Socialism will never catch on.". In this gap of 35 years many things contradictory to what he said happened. For example, The First World War, the sinking of the Titanic, the Russian Revolution, a Labour government was elected in Britain. Priestly is using this play to say that society could have learned in time, but it didn't and had to be taught in the fire, blood and anguish of many lives. ...read more.

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