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An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls 'An Inspector Calls' was a play very much written to make a clear point and to convince the British public into a labour election victory after the war (as happened in 1945). Written in 1945 but set in 1912 in a fictional town called Brumley, the play is a series of events around one family (the Birlings) that lead to a girl drinking disinfectant to end her life. The author J.B. Priestly chose to set the play before the First World War and the sinking of the Titanic, there are several hints of irony as a result of this throughout the play. Written as a morality play, 'An Inspector Calls' still has as much relevance today as it did then - with its teachings of equality in the classes. In this essay I will be discussing the themes and characters in the play and how my understanding of these has been enhanced by watching a production of the play. A major theme of the play is responsibility; every member of the Birling family is some what responsible for Eva's death. This sense of responsibility is brought out by the different reactions of the family members. Some, such as Sheila, feel greatly responsible for Eva's suicide and learn to accept responsibility for her actions and this imposes a great change. ...read more.


She is very hypocritical because she feels the man who made Eva pregnant was responsible for everything until she finds out the "young man" was Eric, her son. In the production Mrs Birling shouts a lot which emphasises how she badly misunderstands the situation. She doesn't know that Eric drinks too much even though Eric has obviously been drinking when he enters and Sheila accuses him of being "squiffy." Another example of a character that lies is Mr Birling. He denies knowing Eva Smith at first but later on he seems to remember her very well as a "lively good looking girl!" He is hypocritical when he tells Eric he needs to "face a few responsibilities," yet refuses to face his own saying "I can't accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn't it?" Some characters finally start to see their whole lives as built on a lie. For example Gerald has lied to Sheila and they discover that they don't really know each other at all - "You and I aren't the same people who sat down to dinner here. We'd have to start all over again, getting to know each other-." ...read more.


Mr and Mrs Birling are also happy to accept this explanation of the events and are shut back up in their false perceptions. Gerald is shown to be similar to Mr and Mrs Birling in his reaction but is not shown to be as guilty as the two of them because his treatment of the girl was more kind than anyone else's. In the Inspector's case, as I have already mentioned, he is speaking on behalf of the working classes and never enters the house. The use of extras, the children in poverty, is a visual representation of the working classes. At the start of the play during the inspector's entry, one of the children playing runs up to him and takes an orange from him. Children at this time had never seen an orange because of the deprivations of the war, never the less the child still trusts him enough to take it from him. This implies that the inspector is a father figure, someone to be trusted. In conclusion I would say that the staging and setting of the production enhanced my view of the play. It brought out many important points about themes and characters in a visual way. This was very effective and clearly defined the differences between the characters. It emphasized the points and message of the morality play. ...read more.

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  1. Show how the production of "An Inspector Calls" enhanced the script and furthered your ...

    The use of the Inspector in the play was to convey Priestley's own ideas and opinions. The Birlings are used to show now not to behave. The way the characters played their parts helped to get the message across: "I can't accept any responsibility."

  2. "Inspector Calls" is about the discriminations between different classes and sexes.

    I believe is one of the most powerful scenes of the play and should be treated as such with the Birling's faces portraying a mixture of grief and anger as they finally conclude that their actions were a chain of events leaving a girl without the will to live.

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