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

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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. J.B Priestley's use of language, character, and setting for dramatic effect in 'An Inspector ...

    The youngsters in the play are Gerald, Sheila, and Eric, each of whom in turn are helpful towards the Inspector by being truthful about what happened nearly all of the time. This makes me believe that they aren't as scheming and are influenced more by the Inspector than Mr and Mrs Birling are.

  2. Compare and contrast the characters of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith in J.B. Priestley's ...

    The older characters seem not to have changed though, and you wonder if anything will be different in their thoughts and actions. Another way to compare these two characters would be through looking at their relationships with other characters and with each other.

  1. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector ...

    Sheila at that moment was feeling all the blame; she wants to know who else is to blame for the young girl's death. The inspector told Gerald that Sheila alone feels responsible for the death of that girl. Sheila agree she says that she is the one to blame and

  2. An Inspector Calls- Explore Priestley's dramatic methods in the opening scene of the play ...

    Just from reading the first few pages, we can see how certain characters are going to treat each other and talk to each other. For example right at the start, when the doorbell has just rang, and Eric has entered the room again, Mr.

  1. What inspired Priestley? What made him write 'An Inspector Calls' and why set it ...

    Birling as I mentioned before doesn't want to accept responsibility for Eva Smith's death. When the Inspector asks her questions, she could be considered a liar as she says; "...I've done nothing wrong - and you know it". Mrs.

  2. How does JB Priestley expound his views of social hypocrisy in An Inspector Calls?

    This also establishes the idea of a world war. We also hear harsh violin strings that are jagged this creates tension in the audience. The children are wearing shorts and pullovers which is the 1945s fashion. They are playing on the stage which represents the bomb site.

  1. Why has the play 'An Inspector Calls' remained popular for so long?

    B. Priestly shows that children and parents of 20thC have a lack of communication with each other causing parents to have different ideas to what their children are actually doing. In the play, Eva Smith, the young girl who committed suicide, was thrown out onto the streets after she was harshly sacked from Millwards.

  2. "An Inspector Calls" - issues raised in the play concerning the social structure ...

    Birling wants to make a good impression on the new member of the family, Gerald; in the opening lines of the play Mr. Birling points out that the port they are having is the same as the port that Gerald's father buys from the merchant.

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