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Examine and Comment on the Dramatic Effect of the character of the Inspector in J.B. Priesley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’

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Introduction

Examine and Comment on the Dramatic Effect of the character of the Inspector in J.B. Priesley's 'An Inspector Calls' Written in 1945 by J.B. Priesley, the play An Inspector Calls is set in 1912 just before the Great War. This was a time of very great tension, especially between England and Germany, yet the British aristocracy still felt optimistic for the near future. There are frequent references to the war during the opening section of the play. The character of the inspector throughout the play is successful in dramatically uncovering the truths behind the often arrogant Birling family, using various methods which help create and maintain an ironic sense of sub-concious unease and keep the audience at the edge of their seats. The interogation finally reaches a climax of dramatic irony towards the end of the play, by which time the family seem to have lost their great sense of power and nobility. The inspector can be seen as a catylist for the evenings proccedings. The play begins one evening at the Birling residence, involving the whole family who are brought together for a celebration of the daughter Sheila's engagement to Gerald. The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of the Inspector who begins the interrogation straight away, and it is apparent that he is there to gain some information from the family: "Inspector: I'd like some information, if you don't mind, Mr Birling." (Act 1, Page 11) From the very beginning the inspector attempts to portray himself as a real policeman; refusing a drink and using common police terminoligy. ...read more.

Middle

This also, during the play, seems to take the form of a cycle of events repeated on the interrogation of each culprit which helps dramatically to gain the audience's attention and to keep the atmosphere within the theatre tense as the audience witnesses this repetition and anticipates the next revelation within the inquiry. The inspector manipulates the argument of the questioned by arguing in a very objective manner, asking for their opinion of how they think they should be treated. Once the inspector has gained enough information he will put their views into the context of his arguement about how the questioned has treated Eva, asking them whether or not that is how they would like to be treated. By doing this the inspector is attempting to broaden the family's perspective on their own actions, giving them a chance to realise their own faults. The inspector also emphasizes the importance of thinking and acting as a community, reflecting J.B. Priestley's socialistic views again. The photo is another useful technique of the inspector which he uses to trigger the character's memories of their involvement with Eva and make them relive their experiences. However his methods of showing a photo are rather suspect. He only lets one person see the photo at a time and every time replaces it in his pocket. How do we know that it is just one photo, when it could be several different photos of different people the family has been involved in and there could be no connection whatsoever. ...read more.

Conclusion

Who is he? Where did he come from? Why? The audience is left unanswered, keeping the questions more prevalent, letting them all take home a moral message. Society matters, and thought for others needs and care is essential if we are to live happily lives. And if people carry on in their arrogant selfish manner "then they will be taught in blood, fire and anguish." War. J.B. Pristley is particular. He has used the inspector to make them relive their experiences for the audience to hear, and so must be seeking some sort of judgement from the audience. "An Inspector Calls" is only the process in which the transfer of a message is made; from J.B. Priestley to the audience. So therefore we can see the play as one big story of morality; where mankind went so wrong and eventually caused the two most disastrous wars in history. This is why the historical context of this play is so important. He has written it post-war with the ideas and stories fresh in his mind so that he could successfully convey the deep feelings involved with such a dramatic play. "An Inspector Calls" is a story about J.B. Priestly designed with the key task of airing his views on morality and how things should have, and could have, been done. It becomes evident that he views the conflict between the greedy aristocracy and the working class as the cause of much misery. "An Inspector Calls" is the reliving of the Great Wars with a message, using the inspector, and the associated drama, to make his point. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 1 ...read more.

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