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An inspector calls

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Introduction

An inspector calls John Boynton Priestley was born in Bradford in 1894. On the outbreak of the First World War Priestley immediately joined the British Army. He was sent to France and in September 1915 took part in the Battle of Loos. After being wounded in 1917 Priestley sent back to England for six months. Soon after returning to the Western Front he endured a German gas attack. When Priestley left the army he became a student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. At university Priestley he gained valuable experience by writing for the Cambridge Review. After completing a degree in Modern History and Political Science, Priestley found work as theatre reviewer with the Daily News. He also contributed articles to the Spectator, the Challenge and Nineteenth Century. Priestly also began writing books and his early critical writings. Later he also wrote popular novels In the 1930s Priestley became increasing concerned about social problems. During these years priestly became very concerned about the consequences of social equality inside Britain the common wealth party that priestly helped set up argued for public ownership of land, greater democracy and a new 'morality' in politics. Priestly was influential in the development of the welfare state which began to be put in place at the end of the war. He had seen war, the horrors of it and how it always had consequences that changed life in every country involved. He believed further wars could be avoided through co-operation and mutual respect between countries and therefore became very active in the early movement for the United Nations. During the Second World War Priestley became the presenter of a BBC Radio programme that followed the nine o'clock news on Sunday evenings. Priestley built up such a following that after a few months it was estimated that around 40 per cent of the adult population in Britain was listening to the programme. ...read more.

Middle

He is used to convey a message, as a mouthpiece to Priestley's views. He makes it seem as if socialism is the true and honest way to live. The Inspector does not use euphemisms and instead uses graphic imagery in order to shock the Birlings into giving him information, "she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out of course". He also has a feeling of omniscience and an almost ghostly presence. His name, Inspector Goole, indicates this as Goole sounds like Ghoul and Inspector sounds like spectre. The Inspector is used to 'correct' the capitalists and makes a strong statement in favour of socialism in his final rhetorical speech. In this speech he states that for lower class, "Eva Smiths and John Smiths" there is a "chance of happiness" in socialism. The Inspector also makes the audience realise that they are "members of one body" and that they should try their best to help people like Eva Smith, otherwise, as the Inspector implies, "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish". This almost acts as a threat to the audience and forces them to recognize the value of Priestley's message. Dramatic irony is also used in many ways as a dramatic device. It is used to promote the Inspector yet mock Mr Birling. In Mr Birling's speech at the beginning of the play, he proudly states that "as a hard-headed businessman" he thinks that "there isn't a chance of war" and that the Titanic is "absolutely unsinkable". With the play being published after two world wars and the sinking of the Titanic, Priestley makes the audience think that Birling is a fool. Whereas the Inspector, who states in his final speech that "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish" indicating that there will be a war, is elevated by the use of dramatic irony. This makes the audience believe the socialist views of the Inspector instead of the 'foolish' views of Mr Birling. ...read more.

Conclusion

then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish.' This is a very powerful statement and it would seem that the Inspector is implying that the war was sent as a consequence people for not working together and at the same time forcing them to do so in order to avoid future conflicts. The war did break down barriers between classes and people had to all work for the country, not for personal gain, so what the Inspector spoke of was accurate. I think Priestley used the idea of war to convey his message because it was a major issue when the play was written and everyone would have suffered from it and would care greatly about it. The play finishes with a telephone call from the police saying that 'A girl has just died.... after swallowing some disinfectant' and a real Inspector will question the family. This is an unexpected twist. The fake Inspector was there to punish them on a moral level and to try and make them feel guilty enough to change their behaviour. This was accomplished with Eric and Sheila the future generation, but not with the others the past generation. The only thing that they would be affected by was a 'public scandal,' and the real Inspector would ensure that that is what they would get. Without this twist, it would seem that the Birling parents and Gerald would escape unpunished. In conclusion the Inspector's main purpose is to teach. In the context of the play, he told the characters what had happened to a particular girl because they had each been guilty of selfishness. In regards to the whole of society, he voiced Priestley's opinions that we cannot make any progress if we do not work together. In my opinion, those watching or reading the play today would not gain as much from the story in regards to the moral teachings because most have now accepted the advantages of Socialism over Capitalism and so do not have as much to learn on the arguments of this issue as the audiences of that time. ...read more.

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