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An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls JB Priestley What dramatic devices does JB Priestley use to expose injustice in his play? An Inspector Calls is one of the most famous and well respected plays ever written. It was written by JB Priestley in 1945, although it was actually set in 1912. The play is about a pretentious, upper class family called the Birlings, who are presented at first to have a lack of respect for other people's feelings and anybody not as wealthy as themselves. This lack of respect is depicted to us so dramatically that it shows an inequality in there society. However, one evening when the Birlings are happily celebrating the engagement of their daughter, 'Shelia Birling', to her fianc� 'Gerald' they are interrupted by a knock on the door. It is an Inspector. The plot then unfolds, when the Birlings are told that a girl has died in the infirmary due to drinking a bottle of disinfectant. Nevertheless it leads to a long and heated interrogation with each person until it becomes clear that the 'all so innocent' Birlings do have to take some blame for this poor defenceless girl's death, as she was practically driven to suicide by the ignorance and selfishness of the Birlings. After all of the Birling family and Gerald are proven guilty of something, that could have pushed the girl/Eva Smith over the edge, they find out that the inspector is a fake and is not really any kind of policeman. The Birlings also call the infirmary to check the details of the girl's death, but they are astonished to find out that there has not been a suicide in months, let alone that day. ...read more.


E.g. (who's the bigger man) This is shown by Mr Birling consistently mentioning that he has friends in high places. He does this in a very subtle and sly manor. At this point both of them know the involvement Mr Birling had with Eva Smith. Mr Birling remembered Eva Smith because he fired from his company her due to a campaign she led for higher pay. Therefore he last meet Eva Smith under unpleasant circumstances. This secret that both the inspector and Mr Birling had was probably what sparked off this aggressiveness. The first time we see this happening is when Mr Birling says "Perhaps I ought to warn you that he's an old friend of mine, and that I see him fairly frequently. We play golf together at the West Bromley". The "old friend" being the inspector's chief constable. In a way Mr Birling is trying to tell the Inspector to tread carefully, by letting him know he has friends in high places. This aggressiveness certainly demonstrates how Priestley changes the tone so drastically and so effectively. It also keeps the audience gripped making it very exciting. All of the characters in this play have very strong personalities one way or another, and all of them represent some kind of portrayal above everybody else in the play. Shelia, for example, shows that she feels more remorse than anyone else by far and seems truly hurt and guilty by the whole thing. For example when the inspector asked Shelia "And was it the girls fault?" ...read more.


Everyone is very disappointed in Eric but not surprised which gives us the feeling that he is a bit wild, and can't control himself, as the Birlings act as if he has been pulling stunts like this his entire life. These acts of Eric's, all have an involvement with people in the lower class e.g.; getting Eva Smith pregnant, out drinking etc. This is why his family are so disappointed with him, as they see it as extremely wrong to be socialising with people inferior to them. This shows a huge amount of injustice. This play has many good aspects to it from an audience prospective of how funny and entertaining it was and from a reviewer's point of view of how it symbolized the social defects in 1912. But can we get both of these things (entertainment and morals) at the same time? I think we can get both things at the same time. This is because the play has a great plot and is very entertaining whoever you are, but even if you don't break down the points in the play and assess the moral values, you are still left with an impression that the Inspector wasn't actually that bad after all and he did the Birlings more good than bad. You are also left with a thriller aspect of "who did it". This means that the effectiveness of the play is absolutely brilliant because you don't even realise the morals you are picking up from the play as they are hidden between the lines. Therefore the play can be both didactic and entertaining and the main way he achieved this is by Priestley's use of dramatic devices. ...read more.

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