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'An inspector calls' is a play by JB Priestley.

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An Inspector calls 'An inspector calls' is a play by JB Priestley. It is set in 1912 but was written in 1945, just months after the end of World War II. It was no coincidence however, that Priestley chose to write the play at this time, it was indeed his deliberate action to publish it at such a vulnerable time. England was currently undergoing a period of great social and political change. And as many people had been affected by the war and the nation in need of drastic renovation, most people were leaning towards the introduction of a more socialist government in hope that it would draw a finer line between the extremely wealthy and the poor. However, much of the middle and upper classes still remained faithful to the ideals of capitalism, whereas Priestley, himself coming from a modest background, also favoured the ideals of socialism, many of which are presented in the play. Priestleys' political views had also been very much influenced by major incidents that had occurred throughout his life. Born in 1894, he would have himself been a witness to both world wars, which would have had a great impact on his social outlook. The depression of the 1930s would also have changed his views or shed new light on how he believed society should operate. After the Wall Street crash in 1929, millions of Americans were in desperate need of financial help from the government. However, the current government, under Herbert Hoover, disapproved of such involvement in its' citizens' lives. His capitalist ideal of 'rugged individualism' encouraged the belief of 'every man for himself'. Of course this had worked fine throughout the boom of the 1920s where people did not necessitate government aid, but now as people were starving and being evicted from their homes, rugged individualism was doomed for failure. However, when FDR Roosevelt was elected in 1929, major improvements were made within the space of a year. ...read more.


Sheila gives the impression of a caring, compassionate young girl, but in retrospective irony, the audience will soon realise how improper her words are. After some persuasion from the inspector, Mr Birling allows his daughter to be questioned. The inspector had previously mentioned that after having been fired from Birling and Co. Eva Smith was out of work for two months, and having no parents or home to go back to, she lived in lodgings with the little money she had saved from working at the factory. It so happened however that she had a wonderful stroke of luck and found a job at Milwards, a popular and somewhat prestigious fashion store of the time. However, after about a couple of months, just as she felt that she was settling down nicely, they told her she had to go. It was admitted that it had nothing to do with how Eva was working, but that a customer had made a complaint and so she would have to leave. Upon hearing this Sheila becomes uneasy and asks what the girl looked like, the inspector moves nearer towards a light and shows her a photograph of Eva, at which Sheila gives a little cry and rushes out of the room. When later Sheila is confronted with her actions, amidst repentant pleas she admits that she complained to the manager of Milwards because she had been jealous of Eva: ' The dress suited her, she was the right type for it. She was a very pretty girl too...and that didn't make it any better. When I tried the thing on I knew it was all wrong, I caught sight of this girl smiling at Miss Francis - as if to say, ' doesn't she look awful' - and I was absolutely furious.' While Priestley still thought that the younger generation provided greater hope for the ideas of socialism, this shows how he felt anyone could fall victim to hypocrisy, and how it would be very easy, however sorry afterwards, for anyone born into such wealth to succumb to the uncontrollable flaws of human nature. ...read more.


Gerald is the young, carefree, well-off businessman who is primarily concerned with his having a good time. And finally, Eric and Sheila both represent the rather hypocritical but altogether more compassionate younger generation. Indeed, when it is eventually discovered that the inspector was not actually an inspector at all, and that no girl had actually committed suicide that day, Sheila and Eric are the only two who still show remorse for their actions: ' Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn't end tragically then that's lucky for us. But it might have done...whoever that inspector was, it was anything but a joke. You began to learn something. And now you've stopped. You're ready to go in the same old way.' While Eric and Sheila are still aware of the consequences their actions may have led to, the rest of the family breathe a sigh of relief and talk rather amusedly about the supposed hoax. However, the play ends in a rather unpredictable fashion. Just as Mr Birling is laughing at Eric and Sheila for 'not being able to take a joke', the phone rings sharply, he answers it, and then turns round in a panic-stricken fashion at the others: ' That was the police. A girl has just died - on her way to the infirmary - after swallowing some disinfectant. And a police inspector is coming round - to ask some - questions - As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls' By closing the play in such a way, Priestley has turned the ending itself into a dramatic device. The audience will now leave the theatre wondering what the ending actually meant. Was the inspector a realistic, straightforward police inspector? Was he a hoaxer? Or did he, in his omniscience, represent something supernatural? All these questions are deliberately left unanswered by Priestly so that the audience will leave thinking about the play, and then hopefully, about the message it conveyed. Zuleika Cheatle Conte 3, 570 words ...read more.

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