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"An Inspector Calls" by J. B. Priestly - Who invented the formula for a well made play?

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Introduction

English GCSE Coursework - 20th Century Drama Assignment "An Inspector Calls" by J. B. Priestly Who invented the formula for a well made play An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly, is the story of the visit by an Inspector to an apparently normal family, the Birlings. They are celebrating Sheila Birling's engagement to Gerald Croft, who is also present, when the Inspector arrives telling them of the suicide of a young girl called Eva Smith. At first they deny any knowledge of the girl, but as the play goes on the Inspector manages to show that they all helped kill her. Mr Birling had her dismissed from his factory for demanding a small increase in wages; Sheila ordered her to be dismissed from her job in a shop simply because of her pride. Gerald Croft kept her as his mistress before leaving her suddenly; Eric Birling (Mr & Mrs Birling's son) also had an affair with the girl and stole money to keep her living; and Mrs Birling used her influence to deny help to Eva Smith when she needed it most, driving her to suicide. The features needed for a well-made play are: the exposition, entrances and exits, the "obligatory scene", the climatic curtain, mistaken identity, the plot and the d�nouement. The exposition is also known as the opening. It is meant to serve as an introduction to the play through providing information on the themes of the play, the characters and the background and context of the play. Entrances and exits are introduced into the play in order to raise suspense and tension. In a well-made play entrances and exits are also perfectly timed to produce maximum effect. In the "obligatory scene" the truth is revealed. This also serves to add to the drama of the play. The climatic curtain is one of the major features of a well-made play. It is when an Act ends on a tense and highly dramatic moment. ...read more.

Middle

show that he is not in a good frame of mind. He appears to be slowly learning his lesson but is getting very angry as he sees that all he believes in is wrong. As he discovers the revelations about Eric's theft of the money he becomes more and more desperate, and just before the Inspector's departure he says he will give "thousands� to keep the story quiet. Birling is told by the Inspector that he is "offering the money at the wrong time" meaning he should have given Eva the pay rise. Eva Smith will make him pay "a heavy price" (p.?) in terms of emotion, not money. This will effect him for the rest of his life. After the Inspector's departure, Birling admits that he has "learnt a lot" (p.?) from his visit. However, he immediately singles out Eric as "the one I blame for this [the scandal]" (p.?) so he still seems to have little notion of community as he should, if he had learnt anything, be saying "we're the ones to blame for this incident". Instead he seems to be shifting blame from himself. You can see that as soon as the characters begin to construct doubts about the legitimacy of the Inspector he tries to find a way out of his predicament. As the story unravels he becomes "excited" (p.?) on discovering that the Inspector is not real and soon he has managed to put the whole episode out of his head, despite protests from Eric and Sheila who try to tell him that "you still haven't learnt anything." (p.?) which shows that the younger generation has learnt from the incident, but the older generation is just stubborn. Birling is far more concerned about what may happen if the news comes out in public than whatever he did to Eva Smith and makes fun of Eric and Sheila for "not being able to take a joke." ...read more.

Conclusion

They all celebrate, because nobody will be punished as it was not a real incident. Their relief does not last long because they receive a phone call from a real Inspector telling them that a young girl has been found to have committed suicide and that he is coming to question them about the incident. The story ends on a climatic note as the characters stare "...guiltily and dumbfounded..." (p.72). The audience is left to wonder what will happen after the curtain has come down. Cultural and social attitudes of the time the play is set in are prevalent in An Inspector Calls. There is a marked difference between the attitudes of the attitudes and values of the older characters in the play and the younger ones. This ending for a well designed play should be plausable and logical. I believe that this play is both. In summary, An Inspector Calls details the differing attitudes of the Birling family to the events leading to Eva Smith's death and how they accept the responsibility for their actions. The older characters are too rigid to change but the younger ones are able to see their faults and accept what they have done is wrong. The differing attitudes between the older and younger characters are shown by their conversations following the Inspector's departure. Cultural and social attitudes of the time the play is set in are prevalent in An Inspector Calls. There is a marked difference between the attitudes of the attitudes and values of the older characters in the play and the younger ones. The play also reflects various cultural, social and historical, which reflect on the time both in which the play is set in and when it was written. As well as teaching a moral lesson about community, An Inspector Calls reflects many of the historical, social and cultural attitudes that were prevalent both in the time the play was set (1912) and the time in which it was written (1944). In this way the play is Priestly's comment on the values of that period. ...read more.

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