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An Inspector Calls Overview and Personal Response

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls I liked 'An Inspector Calls' even though it isn't the type of play I would usually have enjoyed, because of there being only one scene and small number of characters. But it had a plot that impressed and perplexed me from start to finish with a nice twist at the end. Set at Brumley in 1912 'An Inspector Calls' is about a wealthy family named the Birlings and one night that changes each and every one of them. A man claiming to be a police inspector investigating the suicide of a young, working class girl, arrives at the stately home of Mr Arthur Birling. He has probing questions for each of the five people dining within the house and more than one person is exposed for affecting this girl's life and driving her to suicide. In this play Priestley not only aims to entertain but as with almost all of his other plays and novels has hidden meanings and messages, such as the proud arrogance and irresponsibility of upper class, older generation bureaucrats and their conservative views of the period, their blindness to change and their selfish, spoiled attitudes. This becomes apparently clear as Priestley almost dons the part of the inspector in challenging the family one by one, as Priestley's and the inspector's views appear almost alike (Priestley being a great fighter for the rights of the working class person). This is stated quite clearly in the inspectors closing paragraph: "But remember this. ...read more.

Middle

give a damn about the working class nation, charity and community, just used power and positions designed, supposedly, for the benefit of the common man to advance in society. Take Birlings wife as an example. She abuses her power, first to gain the chair on the 'Brumley Women's Charity Organization' and then, because of her prejudice views towards Eva Smith for the use of her name and nature of her case, sees to it the charity is refused. If his wife is like this what is to say her husband - a man who shares her views on politics and life - isn't equally as abusive. Another example of abusing power comes from John Stienbecks novel 'Of Mice and Men'; the character of Curly is much like Birling. Curly abuses his power as the boss's son to bully the men on the ranch and get any girl he desires. Corruption is like ripples on water; they start off small but grow until they are stopped only by an unmovable obstacle. I think that the inspector is Birlings unmovable obstacle, blocking and turning his corruption back on itself. It's a shock to think this man could ever have entered the House of Lords, which was an ambition he was very close to achieving before Eva's death. He is a very indecisive but intransigent man. Towards the end of the play he constantly changes his mind on the subject of the inspectors origin and what is to be done, he goes along with the first idea aroused and doesn't think things through. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Eva killed herself it wasn't just one person that died, her child died with her. She must not have wanted the child to start life in the same situation she was in. I surpose you could say she loved it enough to kill it. The end of the play and screen play are quite significant. In the screenplay Sheila and Eric are framed together as are Mr and Mrs Birling - you could say one group has learnt, the other has not. I think Gerald should also be framed with the Birlings as he too has learnt little or nothing and like Birling had not been thinking of the girl (Eva) nor of the lesson that could be found from this, but about himself, where he stood and any possible ways of covering up the whole ordeal. It is also important at the end of the play that Mr Birling answers the phone. If it were anyone else particularly Eric or Sheila you would not feel so relieved the family had not got away with it, you might even feel sorry for them. Priestley, I think wrote this play for many reasons but I think one stands out a little. He wanted the common people to know they had perhaps more sense and intelligence than these people and they were running the country. That it was time for a new era, a socialist era, the people were entitled to as much of the country's wealth as the upper classes. Maybe this play helped the first solo Labour government come into office in 1945. I used Encarta '97 for my research. Tom Savage ...read more.

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