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Discuss the dramatic role of the Inspector in J.B. Priestley's play "An Inspector Calls".

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Introduction

Discuss the dramatic role of the Inspector in J.B. Priestley's play "An Inspector Calls". "An Inspector Calls" by John Boynton Priestley, was written in 1945, post World War II, but was set in 1912, before World War I. One reason for this is to show the events which have already happened and that the audience already have knowledge of, such as the sinking of the Titanic and the outbreak of the war, this is dramatic irony. This was also a time of great innovation with the Titanic about to make its maiden voyage. The play was set in the dining room of the Birling's house. The house is situated in the industrial city of Brumley, in the North Midlands of England. Priestley, the writer of the play, was one of those few people at the time that believed in Socialism and this is shown through his work. No more so when he uses the Inspector to symbolise his feelings towards society at the time. At the time, Classism was at the forefront of society and Socialism was a distant dream for those who dared to share it. Priestley said in his autobiography, Margin Released, 'I wanted to write and I believed that the world outside classrooms and labs would help me to become a writer... I had just enough sense to know that I must spend at least the next few years trying my hand at it'. ...read more.

Middle

His speech is about how well the economy is doing, how all the talk of war is ridiculous, how the Titanic is 'unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable' and by 1940 everyone would have forgotten about all the Capital versus Labour agitation's. In the speech, he also states that it is every man for himself. But in the Royal National Theatre's version, the Inspector arrives much earlier and midway through the Birling family celebrations. When I first saw the Inspector, I was surprised by how calmly and slowly he walked onto the stage. After previously reading the play, I was given the impression that the Inspector was very loud, bold and persistent person but I was not given this impression when he first walked onto the stage. When he was on stage outside the house of the Birlings, I was quite puzzled why he was standing there and not knocking on the door and going into the house. But after thinking about it, there might have been several reasons for him doing this. One could be that he might have been standing outside of the house for several minutes to draw attention to himself, so that the audience realises how important his part in the play is. Another reason could be that he was standing there to listen to the conversations that were taking place inside and waiting for the right moment to knock on the door. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many people have come to different conclusions and this is mine. I think that the Inspector is a time traveller. J.B.Priestley became very interested in the fourth dimension and time. That is why I think that the Inspector may have gone back in time or there might have been a time slip of some sort to make sure that these people new what they had done. It would also explain how he knew about Eva Smith's death before it even happened. He also asks many leading questions like, "And of course she was worried about it" and "But you took her home again?" He asks these questions as though he already knows the correct answers. Also the way in which he was dressed compared to Mr Birling. His clothes were much too modern in comparison to Mr Birling's clothes. It does not matter whether the Inspector was real or not, as he has brought out each character's secrets and can leave knowing that he has successfully left them with this tragedy on their consciences for the rest of their lives. I think that Priestley was successful at getting his message across to the audience. This is down to how he uses the Inspector and his mysterious approach. After seeing the play, I found it to be very moving, but also had a touch of mystery to it. At the end of the play, it had me thinking whether we humans will ever learn from our mistakes? By Ricky Singh 10/78 ...read more.

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