• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An Inspector Calls. How does J.B Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device?

Extracts from this document...


How does J.B Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device? - An Inspector Calls essay 'An Inspector Calls' is an ephemeral play largely regarding the issues of responsibility, morality and the social divide written in 1945 by the controversial playwright J.B. Priestley who's strong socialist views are very much present in this play. The play is set in 1912, 33 years before it was first produced, and this was deliberately done by Priestley as he wanted to show how much the world had changed after the World Wars, with huge gender and class divisions being a factor in the way society was run. Priestley wanted to send a message across that we have learnt from our mistakes and that the people recovering from World War II have a caring and loving society to rely on when all seems lost. Being set in 1912 gave both the audience and Priestley the benefit of hindsight of the past, providing Priestley with an opportunity to utilise dramatic irony throughout much of the play. The play is set in Brumley, Northern England and follows the Birling family's celebration of the engagement of their daughter, Sheila, to a reputable aristocrat, Gerald Croft. All seems fine and dandy until the unexpected arrival of Inspector Goole at their doorstep, arriving to interrogate the family in suspicion of assisting a working-class woman, Eva Smith, to her own suicide. The Inspector is omitted from much of Act I, where we learn much more about the other characters in the play. Within the first 10 pages, Priestley has attempted to create a jolly and comfortable family atmosphere with some cold uncertainties under the skin into the mix. He introduces the characters and sets the scene, letting the audience create an opinion on how the story will unfold/ how the characters will develop This is seen in the stage directions describing the setting of the Birling family home, 'The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike'. ...read more.


Whatever they have to say, the Inspector fights back and always tends to win. This is seen when Arthur Birling tries to show he is a man of power and influence and tries desperately to win him over - he says he's a 'former Lord Mayor'. Birling also tries to put the Inspector down by boasting he knows about most of the town's police officers. But the Inspector is not in the slightest bemused and just disregards all of Birling's attempts to impress him, by saying 'quite so' then swiftly continuing. Arthur Birling is not used to taking orders from anyone - he controls the money and his family. The Inspector is a challenge to his authority, Birling only caring about this and not about the part he played in Eva Smith's death. This again shows the fa�ade that the family put on, everything has to be perfect and any interruptions will have to be dealt with, in this case the Inspector. The Inspector is a key character in the play and is crucial to plot progression. He is the catalyst, the person who drives things forward, makes things happen and takes complete control of the situation, no matter what anyone else has to say. It is almost as if the Inspector is the puppeteer, he plays with the characters to find out what he needs in his own way The play is named after him, 'An Inspector Calls' showing the significance of his character. 'Calls' is a deceptive word to use about the Inspector. The way he operates may appear casual and spontaneous, but in fact it's single minded and calculating. He is a very grave character, taking nothing lightly and killing the mood, helping to force the suspects to take him seriously. This is seen in the line, 'It's the way I like to go to work. One person and one line of inquiry at a time.' ...read more.


Sheila reacts sorrowfully and sympathetically towards his disheartening descriptions, but after his final speech, everyone is affected. The Inspector's leaving speech has a strange, powerful and prophetic quality about it, they summarise the play's philosophy about how society is so uneven; the audience at the time were especially influenced by the line, 'if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire & blood & anguish,' as they were just recovering from the devastation of World War II. The speech is the dramatic peak of the play, affecting every character significantly, leaving them 'staring, subdued and wondering.' Sheila is 'quietly crying', Mrs. Birling has 'collapsed into a chair', Eric is 'brooding desperately' and Mr. Birling 'hastily swallows' a drink. The Inspector leaves a lasting mark on the family but leaves them to solve their own problems, he has no interest. He's the voice of morality in this play, pronouncing his judgement of society and disappearing, like the 'ghoul' he is. To conclude, Inspector Goole is a very effective dramatic device used by Priestley in this play as the Inspector ultimately drives the plot forward, without him everything would be secretive ('rose-tinted spectacles') and bland. He provides mystery and uncertainty, creating tension amongst the audience and spreads Priestley's emphatic message of socialism to the world, of how we must recognise and confess our wrongdoings and make our planet a better place, it is what we were put on this planet to do. Who knew a 'tall man who is clean shaven' could provide such intensity, power and righteousness to a 'ghoulish' role as a false police inspector? Priestley did of course, and used it to great effect, capturing audience's imaginations worldwide and by creating one of the best mystery plays of the modern era. The Inspector is an influential character, changing the ways the characters lived their lives and shaping the world we live in today. ?? ?? ?? ?? By Tom Spellins 10S - Miss Clee - English Coursework ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. How does Priestley use time as a dramatic device in 'An Inspector Calls'? How ...

    Public confession of responsibility-um?" showing his support with Mrs Birling's view on the treatment of the father of Eva's baby. Hence, Priestley displays the hypocrisy of the upper class and Mrs Birling's dual standards; her belief that what applies to the upper classes and most importantly her family and her reputation, may not apply to another.

  2. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    The important thing is to try to correct it because if you do not then it just blows up out of proportion. This is shown well in the play when Sheila realises that she should have said something about Eric's drinking problem as it is the main reason that he got into his terrible situation.

  1. An Inspector Calls.

    This sort of sexist attitude, where it was thought more important that men should have an education than women, is shown throughout An Inspector Calls. Several times in the play Birling asks Sheila and Mrs Birling to leave the room so he can speak in private.

  2. What is the role of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls. How does Priestley ...

    The play is set in a real-life household in real time. This impacts on the way the audience feels, as they think that what they are seeing is actually happening. Priestley uses dramatic irony to expose Birling's poor judgments. As an audience from the future watching events set in 1912 we can see that Priestley has made Mr.

  1. An Inspector Calls. Explore how Priestley portrays Sheilas role in the play and ...

    He met her first in the Palace bar as Gerald did and they had a few drinks with her, later on he was quite drunk and they went to her lodgings. After a few more dates, Eva was going to have a baby.

  2. How does JB Priestley present the social issues of the Edwardian period in 'An ...

    Eric Birling is a heavy drinker and is a regular in the palace bar. He cared for Eva and tried to help her. He tried to do what was morally right even if he did not accomplish it. He is like his sister Sheila; they both still felt that they

  1. How does Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device in "An Inspector Calls", ...

    Arthur Birling believes `a man has to make his own way, has to look after himself- and his family too, of course'. He likes to believe that he is a "hard headed businessman" who is more concerned with high profits than the welfare of his employees.

  2. How does J B Priestley use the Inspector as a voice for social change?

    Her tone of voice is easy as she is relaxed but it is also full of self-importance. She does not feel threatened by the Inspector and her casual language shows this. However just like Mr Birling when he says; ?And to that I say fiddlesticks!

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work