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"An Inspector Calls" by JB Priestley is set just before the First World War and it was written just after the Second World War, yet it is still one of the most frequently performed plays by both amateur and professional companies.

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Introduction

Amy Candiano 10C Miss Graham 34763 "An Inspector Calls" by JB Priestley is set just before the First World War and it was written just after the Second World War, yet it is still one of the most frequently performed plays by both amateur and professional companies. Try to explain why the play still has such a strong appeal to audiences today? "An Inspector Calls" is a drama written by JB Priestley just after the Second World War in 1944; however the play is set in 1912 just before the outbreak of World War 1. It tells us of the unfolding drama in the Birling family household as they come to realise that they have all contributed to the suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith. The play is still frequently performed by both amateur and professional companies and still has a strong appeal to audiences today especially the younger generation, the reason for this is that this tense play has an important message to teach to it's audiences, everybody is responsible for everybody else. The Birlings are a middle class family but are very complacent and consider themselves to be upper class in the society in which the family live in at that period in time. Arthur Birling is the father who is full of his own self-importance. He is a prosperous factory owner whose first priorities are money and trying to keep up a reputable reputation as he aspires to be upper class. His wife, Sybil Birling is her husband's social superior who comes from a wealthy upper class family. The Birlings have two children Sheila and Eric. Sheila is an attractive young woman who has just become engaged to Gerald Croft. Gerald Croft has had a rich upbringing and his parents do not want him to marry Sheila as they believe she is of a lower, poorer social class but believe it will benefit both family businesses as the Crofts and Birlings join forces. ...read more.

Middle

"We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other". This is the inspector talking but we are really hearing the voice of Priestley. This speech makes the audience think of times when they have had problems and makes them learn this lesson to change to make the world a more peaceful place. Even though the audience have learnt this lesson from the play, selfish and complacent people still exist meaning Priestley's lesson has not been learnt. Sheila learns the Inspector's/Priestley's message showing his view on how the young only learn while as for the old generation, change comes slowly and takes years to understand. "It doesn't make any real difference, a girl has died." The play was written in 1944 to 1945 just after the Second World War. During this period many people suffered great devastation as homes were destroyed, families were killed and communities were separated. After the war there was great optimism that the world would be more peaceful and that people would learn to stop wars from arising, Priestley was one of those optimistic people. He wrote this play to try to teach his audience this very important message. The play would have been extremely poignant for audiences around 1945 as they would have just experienced this miserable and disastrous war. You may think this play would have had more of an influence on the audiences of 1945 than the audiences of 2002, but war still exists today. For example the September 11th tragedy in New York, where two aeroplanes were purposely flown into the twin tower buildings and thousands of people were killed. This was an act of terrorism and it shows how even though the play has a strong, clear message and is still performed to audiences today we have still not learnt the lesson, people should learn to get along and look out for one another. ...read more.

Conclusion

Priestley does this purposely for the audience and to make them think. This heightens the sense of drama for the audience. "And how do we know she was really Eva Smith or Daisy Renton?" This is a hope by Gerald and the family as they do not want to lose their reputation and their aspiring upper class respect. This frustrates the audience as they want the photograph to be the same one so the family will then get the comeuppance that they deserve for being a part of Eva's suicide. The audience also want their reputation to be destroyed. This is why the audience enjoys the play as it is a dramatic thriller which involves them in a tense and entertaining way. "An Inspector Calls" by J.B Priestley is still one of the most frequently performed plays ranging from 1945-2002 and it has a strong appeal to a wide age range of people. It is a dramatic drama which involves the audience throughout by using dramatic and theatrical methods to portray the plays strong message. J.B Priestley wants people to stop being so complacent and start thinking about others more than themselves. He wants his audience to learn from his play that "I" is not always more important then "We" and that we should work as a community. The Inspector important speech shows this, "We are responsible for each other." The play is still relevant to audiences today because people still have not learnt Priestley's message as war and disastrous events still are happening today. This is not the right way to live. Priestley wants people to understand his message and act on it, and not just listen. If the whole would work together and not against each other as enemies, we would live in a more peaceful and happier world. The playwright says the younger generation learn quicker than the older generation were change occurs slower, but if people of all ages, all cultures, and all religions can understand the message of "An Inspector Calls" we can all learn to change for the better and care for each other. ...read more.

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