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'An Inspector Calls' Essay (Play)

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Introduction

'An Inspector Calls' Essay (Play) 'An Inspector Calls' is a play written by JB Priestley in 1945 and set in 1912. Priestley demonstrates his concern with moral responsibility and his beliefs in Socialist values through the character of the Inspector, whom he uses as a mouthpiece throughout the play. He voices his opinions on these issues using this technique, and they are shown by the way the Inspector deals with the Birling family and are exemplified by the obstacles to social harmony in which the Inspector has to face before coming to a suitable and justifiable conclusion. The play was written in 1945 - within a week of World War Two ending - but set in 1912, when Britain still had its Empire and was doing very well financially. The time span between the two dates is Priestley's way of expressing a feeling of urgency he thought necessary to pass on to society after the events of 1945. Although the war had ended, society in Britain in 1945 was still experiencing the hardships that it had brought. New books were printed under the wartime economy regulations, continuing the shortage of paper and therefore resulting in the books being expensive - too expensive for any working class person to purchase. However, in 1912 some things were different. Society did not have the burden of the war hanging over their heads, but life for the poor did not differ much from 1945. ...read more.

Middle

I feel that the reason the Inspector calls at that specific time is to ultimately prove Birling wrong, and try to show him that we are responsible for each other in this world, and how you cannot escape the fact that 'what goes around, comes around'. Birling is quite outraged at the fact that the Inspector has rudely interrupted their dinner party, and he constantly attempts to tackle the Inspector with petty little comments: "I ought to warn you that [Colonel Roberts] is an old friend of mine, and that I see him fairly frequently. We play golf together". Birling continually tries to intimidate him by mentioning his apparent authority, and patronises the Inspector - "look here, Inspector. I consider this uncalled-for and officious. I've half a mind to report you". Again, Birling's pompous personality shines through, but the Inspector seems to take it in his stride and merely brushes off the comments that Birling throws at him: "I don't play golf". I feel that Priestley decided to portray Arthur Birling as taking the Inspector's arrival quite badly to demonstrate just how shallow and thick-skinned society can be, and how we cannot easily accept our mistakes. The Inspector is the one in the play who brings us back down to Earth and makes us realise that. As well as being the messenger, Inspector Goole is also the strongest character in the play, maintaining complete control of the situation at hand and demonstrating his authority frequently. ...read more.

Conclusion

As well as this, the Inspector's speech makes good use of the word 'we', uniting the Birlings with the people that they feel they are superior to - poor people. By the way that the Inspector declares "we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other", he makes clever use of the word 'are', which in turn finalises the idea that we are members of one body, and we are responsible for one another. It is also contradictory to a section of one of Arthur Birling's speeches: "By the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else" which is the complete opposite to what the Inspector is announcing. The passage also anticipates World War One, in the sense that at the very end, the Inspector says "if men will not learn that lesson, they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" - this, to the Birlings, is a prophetic statement, but the reader and audience are aware of it as it has already come to pass. To emphasise that idea, the Inspector lengthens the list of words he mentions; instead of just using a comma between "fire" and "blood", he chooses to use 'and', which sensationalises the comment and makes it sound somewhat more important than if he had just normally listed those specific words. ...read more.

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