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Analyse and evaluate the techniques that Priestley uses to convey his message, We are responsible for one another(TM) in his play An Inspector Calls(TM)

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Introduction

Analyse and evaluate the techniques that Priestley uses to convey his message, 'We are responsible for one another' in his play 'An Inspector Calls' In this essay I will be analysing and evaluating Priestley's techniques that he uses to convey his message in his play An Inspector Calls. I will be analysing the relevance of the social, historical and literary background of the play, the dramatic effects and devices that Priestley uses throughout the play and Priestley's fascination with theories of time. An Inspector Calls was written by J.B. Priestley and was first seen in Moscow in 1945 and in London in 1946. The play is set in 1912. Priestley decided to set his play at this time because it was regarded as the last period of stability and security before the outbreak of WWI. By setting the play in the complacent attitude of the Edwardian era Priestley is able to manipulate the audience into believing they are being taken back into a period of stability. The Edwardian era was looked back to erroneously as a time of security. This idea of 'cracks' within the era is hinted at straight away in the first stage directions directly before the opening words. This is shown when Priestley is describing the setting, "the general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable but not cosy and homelike." This reinforces the idea of Edwardian complacency which meant that clues to future upheavals were ignored. Priestley wrote the play in 1945, the year of the first performance and the year of the end of the Second World War. ...read more.

Middle

The timing of entrances and exits is crucial in the play. Priestley uses them to add tension and excitement into the play. For example, the Inspector arrives immediately after Birling told Gerald that 'a man has to look after himself and his own'. Also, right at the end of Act 2, just as Mrs. Birling denounces the father of the child and claims that 'he should be made an example of', Sheila and the audience that Eric is involved and Eric enters the room. There is evocation of tension as each member of the family is interrogated by the Inspector and found to have played a part in Eva's death. This is reinforced by Sheila's tearful interruptions of Mrs. Birling's self assurance, 'Mother - stop - stop!....But don't you see...'. The Inspector's pattern of questioning is 'one line of inquiry at a time' which is an example of Priestley's use of dramatic structure. This has the purpose of establishing a chain of events 'otherwise there's a muddle'. As an inspector of their consciences he must make his point absolutely clear. Priestley breaks this chronological pattern of investigation when he questions Mrs. Birling before Eric which gives the effect of shattering any secure expectancy of the audience as well as exposing Mrs. Birling as pompous and cold-hearted. Also the repetition of the last words of Act One and Act Two and the first words of Act Two and Act Three contributes to the sense of no escape for both the audience and the characters. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are born into the same house and continue to repeat all the events of our life. This cycle would go on and on unless we changed ourselves spiritually and open the way into a new life. Priestley's interest in these theories of time are shown in the reactions of the characters in the play at the end. Mr. and Mrs. Birling and Gerald return to the blind, complacent attitude shown at the beginning and there is no sense of moral growth or social awareness. If, as in Dunne's theory, they had the ability to look into the future and foresee the consequences of their actions they would probably not change. There is a sharp contrast between their reactions and those of Eric and Sheila, the younger generation, who are suggested to herald the new era of social reform and social security. They realize that things cannot continue as before and that something has changed them morally, as in Ouspensky's theory, they have had the opportunity to foresee the future and change their actions and they are shown to have acknowledged this and to take the opportunity to change. In conclusion, Priestley uses many methods and techniques to reinforce the idea of social awareness and his message that 'We are responsible for one another'. All of these have an effect upon the audience and help us to understand the beliefs of socialism. His play, 'An Inspector Calls', should be seen by everyone to help them to realize the importance of social equality in our society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kate Manson Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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