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An Inspector Calls essay

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls- Priestley's dramatic methods and how an understanding of the historical and social context might help shape the response of an audience Before the characters start talking Priestley describes the setting. The drama is set in a large suburban house in 1912: this was before the First World War and a time of prosperity for people like the Birlings and Crofts. The play was written in 1945, though; after the Second World War putting on a drama production would have been expensive which would explain why the set is reasonably simple and doesn't change between acts. As it is the relationships between the characters in the play that is the main focus the set doesn't detract from that. The Birlings are a wealthy upper middle class family and they have a house that they have made sure shows it. They also show off their money through the clothes they wear: the first time the audience sees them the characters are in evening dress. There are not many props in the set either. The champagne, port and cigars show how well off they are and there are only two other important props. ...read more.

Middle

The scenes before the inspector enters are ominous in many ways; the main topic that stands out though is Birling's references to how a scandal would ruin his chance of a knighthood. This is very important to him as a social climber, and there is a hint that if he achieved it Gerald's parents would approve of the engagement. Right before the inspector comes in Mr. Birling and Gerald are even joking about Eric causing a scandal when little do they know that he already has planted the seeds for one, they just haven't heard about it yet. The sharp ring announces the arrival and cuts through the party atmosphere bursting their bubble. When the bell goes it is late at night and unexpected which seems to clash with Mr. Birling's assumption that he knows what is going to happen. Which we know he can't. The predictions he makes are completely wrong, the point of Priestley making him incorrect is to get the audience of 1945 and post-Second World War to question his other views and beliefs. Priestley uses the audiences' historical knowledge to create dramatic irony when Mr. ...read more.

Conclusion

Birling shows that woman are supposed to just look beautiful and show their high status; because of this they take great care when it comes to items such as clothing. Whereas the line shows that men don't have this problem and clothes don't mean the same to them. The middle class woman are not seen as intelligent enough to discuss business and other matters with the men so instead they retire. The inspector's job is to plant socialist ideas in the viewers' head, for example 'all intertwined with our lives'. He sets these ideas up slowly but by the time he is about to leave he has built up to his final speech. '...We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other...' His speech sums up all his views and is his last attempt to win over the characters. After he has left Sheila seems to take over his role as the person trying to pass along the socialist message and then Eric helps her. This symbolises the younger generation being better and far more socially aware than their parents and that there is hope in people like Sheila and Eric to make the community stronger, so that the working-class people that Eva Smith represents don't suffer unnecessarily due to people like the Birlings and the Crofts. ...read more.

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