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An inspector calls

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An inspector calls Explore how Priestley uses the contrasting views of Birling & inspector Goole to criticise British society. An inspector calls is a play written by John Boynton Priestley in 1945. The play is set in 1912, which is used for dramatic effect throughout the play so we know background information on characters that maybe we shouldn't. Such as the fact Mr Birling is mostly wrong in his views & we find him arrogant because we know he is wrong eventhough the events could sway either way in the play. The theme running through this play is all about responsibility, Birling, one of the main characters, is questioned on the death of a girl & his views on responsibility by the inspector who has completely contrary ideas to Mr Birling. From the fact the audience know of the outcome of the Titanic, the 2 world wars, Russian revolution & the general strike we tend not to trust what Birling thinks as we know he is wrong about them all. I have classed this play as a medieval morality & unity play as it fits all or most of the criteria's needed to be these. Ignoring the fact the play was not written in a medieval time. For a medieval morality play, it has the same theme of responsibility running through the play, & all other aspects of a unity play. It has borrowed some features of a unity play & also a medieval morality play, which makes it hard to place in a genre because it does not have all the features of one genre. ...read more.


The audience tend to believe the character of Inspector Goole as he is preferred over Mr Birling & also more trustworthy from not lecturing us about world wars that have happened. Inspector Goole's views are emphasised by the fact Mr. Birling disagrees. Inspector Goole is a character of, "massiveness, solidity & purposefulness". He speaks, "carefully" & has a "disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking". Inspector Goole's name is somewhat abnormal & the audience may think so too, triggering words that sound the same as Goole such as ghoul, which is some sort of ghostly creature. This name makes us wonder why Priestley named him this. Suspicion is aroused when we find out that Inspector Goole might not even exist. Inspector Goole clearly thinks that, "We are responsible for each other" and because we assume Mr Birling's argument against this is wrong we are forced into thinking that we are responsible for each other. The Inspector is always building tension, making sure the story unravels slowly & painstakingly, only speaking to one initial person at any time. This makes the mood tense throughout. When the curtain falls quickly at the end of scenes it keeps the audience wanting more. Mr Birling & Inspector Goole couldn't be more different, which is why the play is so effective at getting a point across. At the start of the play there is harsh lighting on Mr Birling so we instantly know we will not warm to him. It is the stage direction in which we see that he is not a nice man, not someone you could confide in if you had a problem. ...read more.


His use of lighting & stage direction to show the mood is a good way of setting a scene without any action or speech. I think the fact speech is not used, it is much more effective as the audience feel 'it' instead of having to see 'it' and then think about 'it'. The use of dramatic irony was to give the audience an upper hand and knowledge superior to Birling; this was used to shape Birling's character & the audience's views on him. This seems effective when he disagrees with Inspector, due to dramatic irony, we do not trust him and decide Inspector Goole is right on responsibility which is an open subject. Without the aid of this character Priestley would have found it hard to emphasise his point of responsibility. All in all Priestly used the contrasting views of Birling & Inspector to criticise certain aspects of British society such as the stereotyping of lower & higher class citizens. Birling being the snobbish, high middle class person, indulgent & proud. Inspector a totally different being in most characteristics & viewpoints. Then Eva Smith, the low class citizen who Birling cares not for she got into trouble because of other people & ended up dead for it. Responsibility is widely discussed throughout the play and there are many different techniques of getting the point across. The play was meant to appeal to more than the characters and that is the audience, the very fact that it is aimed at the audience concludes that Priestley has criticised British society, and he did it by using contrasting characters to share his views and teach them. ...read more.

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