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An Inspector Calls - Review.

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An Inspector Calls J.B Priestley An Inspector Calls is a play about a family called the Birlings and how they discover that each of them is responsible for the suicide of a young girl named Eva Smith. It is set in the year 1912 in Brumley in Britain. In the family, there is Mr and Mrs Birling, their son Eric and daughter Sheila and her fianc� Gerald. Mr Birling is a pompous, arrogant and self-opinionated man. He is the man of the house and owns a local factory where he employs many girls to work in the machine shops. Mrs Birling is a 'rather cold, stern and unsympathetic woman'; she is Mr Birlings social superior, she often helps an organisation that helps women in need. The organisation is called the Brumley Women's Charity Organization, which is an organisation to which women in distress can appeal for help in various forms. Eric Birling is the youngest child of the Birlings he is in his early twenties, 'a half shy half assertive boy', he is the joker of the family, and he mucks about quite a lot and is often told to be quiet. Sheila Birling is the oldest child, a very pleasant girl, pleased with life as she is to wed Gerald Croft 'an easy well-bred young man about town', he is son of Sir George Croft and Lady Croft who are a well known and respected higher class couple. The play commences with an array of storylines that are used to hook the audience's interest. It begins with a celebration for the engagement of Sheila to Gerald, when a mysterious inspector calls upon the Birlings and brings their celebration to a halt. He tells them news of a horrific and disturbing suicide of a young girl named Eva Smith. She had swallowed a strong disinfectant, which burnt her insides. Sheila immediately repents when she finds out that her own father turned Eva out onto the street, but she finds out that she too ...read more.


Throughout the play and especially in the beginning we can see a 'triangle of power' develop between Mr Birling, Eric and Gerald. This is highlighted through snippets of conversation we hear. We can see that Gerald has a power over Mr Birling because Mr Birling bought a special port for him and he tries to make a special effort to shower Gerald with admiration, this is perhaps because Gerald is of a higher class than himself and when Sheila marries Gerald he will have the status that he so wanted and worked hard for. Mr Birling has power over Eric because he treats him like a boy and doesn't let him explain or finish his sentences, I can tell this when Mr Birling makes a speech about prosperity and capital, Eric says: "Yes, I know - but still-" He is immediately cut off by Mr Birling who rants on about how he is a "practical man of business" and that the titanic is unsinkable and how there will be "peace and prosperity" everywhere "except of course in Russia, which will always be behindhand naturally", again more racist and unintelligent comments by Mr Birling. Mr Birling also keeps Eric out of the joke he makes with Gerald about him getting a knighthood: "What's the joke? Started telling stories?" Eric is bewildered, and thinks that they are telling stories. Mr Birling quite bluntly replies "No." to Eric and changes the subject by offering him a glass of port "No. Want another glass of port?" As the story progresses we discover that Eric drinks heavily, probably as a result of being offered so much alcohol, and that he has got into the habit of helping himself to the port, as we can see by the stage directions for that scene 'take decanter and helps himself'. Towards the end of the play, Eric finally tells his father what he thinks of him and blames him for Eva's death: "Because you're not the kind of father a chap can go to when he's in trouble" This shows us that Mr. ...read more.


he created Mr Birling to have the exact opposite views as himself to further his point that all people should be treated with respect. I think 'An Inspector Calls' is still a popular play for modern day audiences because the themes that Priestley applies in the storyline are still relevant to today. Gerald cheating on Sheila shows us that there are many storylines that are significant to modern day audiences and that have been around at least since 1912, but there are themes that are not as relevant today as others. For example, social classes are not so defined today as they were when the play was first performed and therefore not as significant as when the play was first shown. Another thing to take into account is the fact that the play was first performed just after the Second World War so the Inspector's last speech meant a lot more to the audience then it would with a modern day audience. Furthermore, there is the big question of the Inspector, and who he is. I think that Priestly has quite cleverly made the inspector character so that we cannot put a class on him, which is most ironic because the play is based on class. This play has a message to the whole of society, it criticises the social system using the inspector as a front man for Priestley's opinions and portrays the message effectively to us all. From the proceeding, it seems that the play has a mixture of both relevant and non-relevant themes to modern society and thus inflicts the modern day audience with conflicting opinions. It has the storylines of a modern day soap opera but is set in 1912 and consequently is misunderstood because the subject matter is trivial. In its time it was a revolutionary play in relation to other contemporary plays because it was true to many realities of life and reflected existing opinions, now compared to other modern day plays of its nature it belongs to history and is not as prominent and hence not as popular with a modern day audience. ...read more.

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