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Analyse the play 'An Inspector Calls' by commenting specifically on the playwright's characterization and staging.

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Introduction

Analyse the play 'An Inspector Calls' by commenting specifically on the playwright's characterization and staging. Consider any techniques employed, such as dramatic device and/or symbolism and conclude how successful they are in reflecting the issues raised in the play. J. B. Priestly employs many techniques to convey his moral and social beliefs. I will explore how Priestly uses characterization and staging as well as other dramatic devices to raise issues in the play and examine them further, discussing how they are put across to the audience. I will look at social attitudes, community, family, morals, responsibility and change; commenting on how Priestly puts forward these topics within the play. At the beginning of the play, Priestly shows us the Birlings' views and social attitudes. When the Birling's learn that a young girl has died, they are shocked but Mr. Birling says he doesn't "see where I come into this". The whole family takes upon this attitude at first but as the play progresses, Eric and Sheila's attitudes begin to change. Priestly shows us a different social attitude, and is represented this time not by ignorant capitalists, but by more caring younger people. ...read more.

Middle

Just as Mr. Birling talks about community and responsibility showing the family's feeling of self-satisfaction, Inspector Goole arrives. There is a "sharp ring" of the doorbell, interrupting Mr. Birling's talk on "community and all that nonsense". This is ironic as the dramatic device of using the doorbell to interrupt Mr. Birling's talk on how "a man has to make his own way", symbolises the entrance of Inspector Goole into their lives, and he has come to teach about community and responsibility towards others. The social sectioning shown by Mrs. Birling and the general pre-war social attitudes Mr. Birling represents shows the results of the social attitudes towards community. Priestly shows how, with these beliefs, a real 'community' could not possibly form. Priestly raises the issue of community through showing the need for change, and then presents the Inspector as the person for it. Priestly brings up the idea of family first when Mr. Birling tells the audience of how he thinks that it is important to look after only your own family. However, when we take a closer look at how Priestly presents the Birling family themselves, we see that they are barely an actual 'family' at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

This continues throughout the play, using Eric and Sheila to represent the idea of responsibility and question others as to their irresponsibility. The issue of responsibility is chiefly brought up by the opportunity of change. The Inspector is used to give the Birling's a chance to take on the responsibility the have - "with privileges comes responsibility". The characters of Eric and Sheila face up to their actions and try to convince their parents and Gerald to do the same. Before the Inspectors departure, Priestly uses repetition. Goole says, "each one of you helped kill her. Remember that. Never forget it...Remember what you did". This is how Priestly shows how important he thinks responsibility is, and is how he has brought it up in the play, and wants the audience to remember it. Priestly has used a variety of dramatic and staging devices to put across his own social and moralistic views. He uses characterization throughout to corroborate his beliefs and show them to the audience. His use of dramatic devices within the play reflects and supports the points he is making, whilst showing up the flaws in the oppositions argument. This proves to create clear 'good' and 'bad' sides, therefore showing the points of his argument well, and making the audience question their morals. ...read more.

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