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

"An Inspector Calls" - issues raised in the play concerning the social structure of the time and how this has been relayed

Extracts from this document...


"An Inspector Calls" 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945 by J.B. Priestley although it is set in the spring of 1912. This coursework will hope to address issues raised in the play concerning the social structure of the time and how this has been relayed in the play, it hopes to discuss techniques used by Priestley to create dramatic effect and how various themes and messages are brought about by his writing. It hopes to analyse how Priestley feels about the upper classes and there attitudes in the early 20th century and how he is trying to send a message to members of the upper class about their actions and how they can effect other people. The main characters are that of the Birling family and the inspector. Arthur Birling is a wealthy man in the upper classes who runs his own manufacturing company. As well as being rather pompous he is described by Priestley as 'portentous' due to his views of the future. He is in his middle fifties and is also described as having 'unpolished' speech. Arthur's wife is Sybil Birling who is said to be of a similar age to her husband and is described as being 'cold' and 'austere'. Another interesting point about her is that she is in a superior social position to her husband, this is noticeable at a few points during the play in the way she speaks to him; after his portentous speech in Act 1 Sybil Birling comes out with 'Arthur!' Mr. Birling stops his speech and turns his attention to his wife, at this time it is unlikely a women would have talked to his wife in such a way. Shelia Birling is their daughter in her middle twenties and is obviously pleased with life, as she has just got engaged to Gerald Croft who is near 30 years old and is very confident about himself. ...read more.


This is used to build up tension, not only between the inspector and the other characters but also between the characters themselves because some of them begin to realise that they know things that the others don't, as well as this tension builds up between the audience and the inspector because the audience have got to know the characters quite well and the inspector is almost an 'intruder' into the lives of the characters and the engagement party which was taking place. Another way in which Priestley builds up tension is in the use of lighting. When the inspector arrives Mr. Birling asks Edna the maid to give them more light, which she promptly does, the stage directions at the start explain what the light should be like. At the start we are told that lighting should be 'pink and intimate' this expresses a feeling of comfort and the family are together, happy and content. However, when the inspector arrives we are told the lighting should change to brighter and harder; this does a couple of things. Firstly, the mood obviously changes; the stage no longer portrays a happy and content family but one that has been invaded by an unknown and unwanted guest. As well as this the brighter light may have been used to show that the inspector is about to shed light on matters that may previously been concealed, the bright light makes the faces of the actors much more clear and this allows the audience and the inspector to see better how they are react to allegations that are being made against them. As the tension grows stronger Mr. Birling does seem to begin to crack, he describes Eva Smith death as 'the wretched girl's suicide' and when the inspector wants to know information such as why he didn't give Eva Smith the pay rise he begins to question the inspectors authority with comments such as 'I don't like that tone' and making threats that he knows the chief constable ...read more.


He exists merely as the middleman to question them about their actions and let the rest of the family see what they have done, he is also there to make them think about what they have done and more importantly how they will act in the future. In the closing lines of the play the audience feel the play is over and they have been put through tension and surprise while watching the story of the Birling's unfold, however, there is to be one last twist in the tale that will do the thing that all authors and playwrights want, leave the audience wanting more. The phone rings at the end and an inspector explains there has been a suicide and he is over to ask some question, the curtain then falls. The audience are left wondering what is to happen, will the family be arrested? How will this inspector on his way differ from Goole? Is Eva Smith dead or is it someone else? Will the Birling's explain to the new inspector that someone has already been? None of these questions are answered and so the audience leave feeling part of the story and left pondering what happens, thinking about the play long after the curtain falls. In conclusion An Inspector Calls is much more than a murder mystery. Priestley leaves us all questioning our own position in life and how we could act differently in future. It raises moral questions such as those concerning gender and class, Priestley uses many techniques to criticise the upper classes and specifically aims the play at getting them to change there attitudes. An Inspector Calls follows few of the normal conditions for a murder mystery, firstly there is no murder, there is no 'whodunit?' question asked and there is no big reveal. This takes little away from the success of a play that involves the audience in thinking about how it relates to their lives, in a way you never expect it too when you enter the auditorium. ...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. Marked by a teacher

    The apportioning of blame and responsibility are central themes in 'An Inspector Calls'. Each ...

    4 star(s)

    we can see her trying this with the inspector when she calls him 'impertinent' and the way he spoke to her 'disgusting' yet she still cannot beat him and unknowingly her refusal to let anybody know she had been involved with Eva Smith/Daisy Renton fails and she ends up telling the inspector the whole story.

  2. An Inspector Calls - The mood in Act 1 of the play undergoes a ...

    "We shall be along in a minute now, just finishing" and "Nothing to do with you Sheila run along" shows how keen he is to get Sheila out of the room and away from the Inspector. His keenness to manage the Inspector and get rid of him makes it appear to the audience (and probably to the Inspector)

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

    In the morning they'll be as amused as we are." This is an example of how Mrs Birling has few feelings and shows no signs of compassion. She uses the word amused to describe her own feelings at this

  2. An Inspector Calls: In act one of An Inspector Calls how does J.B Priestley ...

    this time because she is the next "victim" on the Inspectors list. Sheila then exits on page 21 crying and sobbing after finding out her involvement in Eva Smith's death, this conveys to the audience that Sheila is genuinely sorry and one of them is to just get the Birlings

  1. Responsibility and Guilt in An Inspector Calls

    Sheila knows: "Yes, of course you were." Gerald then confesses and tells her: "It was all over and done with last summer". He also says that they should keep this from the inspector but Sheila isn't impressed by this and says: "Why, you fool, he knows. Of course he knows."

  2. How does Priestley create tension in the play through characterisation, structure and atmosphere?

    Edna the household maid introduces that an inspector has called at the front door, Birling immediately questions this, and this causes discomfort in him and causes tension shown in the character to the audience. Birling is to high on his horse to believe that anyone in his family could cause

  1. How does Priestley create suspense and tension at the end of Act 2 of ...

    The time this play was shown, the idea of communism was still being weighed and this play could have swung the opinion of the audience towards it. Also, the way in which the upper class is portrayed in the play puts it in a very bad light and will push the audience closer to demanding the abolishment of capitalism.

  2. "An Inspector Calls" thoughts of Sheila Birling and Arthur Burling.

    When we all found out that the Inspector was not an Inspector, I really found out what my mother and father are really like tonight will never make any difference in their lives and they will all way discriminate the lower classes of the society and also what was said tonight can never be taken back.

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