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Explore how Priestley dramatizes his ideas about society in act one of 'An inspector calls', and comment on the approach of the recent Royal National Theatre production

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Introduction

Explore how Priestley dramatizes his ideas about society in act one of 'An inspector calls', and comment on the approach of the recent Royal National Theatre production At the time when Priestley wrote this play the world war had just ended and Britain was looking forward to a new life and a change from the past. Churchill had just been expelled from Prime Minister and a labour government had just taken over. Because of this, Priestley was writing a play in an extremely controversial time and therefore linked his characters and narrative to issues concerning Britain in the 1950's. Priestley was a man who believed strongly in an equal society and sense of community. This is why in his plays he writes how a man who feels he is of a higher social class (Mr Birling) can be brought down to a different 'social level' just by an inspection from a man who may not even have any authority. Priestley also felt that people should feel responsible for his neighbour and therefore making a post-war country, which is a strong unit under the new government. ...read more.

Middle

Inspector then begins to inspect Sheila. Sheila starts of showing the audience how she feels about society, "But these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people." Sheila then changes and becomes agitated, "When was this?" Birling then tells the inspector how he has ruined their celebrations and the Inspector returns this harsh comment by saying how he had seen someone ruin a nice little life. This reminds Mr Birling of the incident and Mr Birling shows the audience all he really cares about is himself. When Sheila is telling her story she almost breaks down crying showing she cares about what she did unlike Mr Birling. The Inspector puts nicely how the whole family thinks they are higher social than the rest of the town, " So you used the power you had, as a daughter of a good customer and also of a man well known in the town, to punish the girl? This is what Priestley wanted because it makes the audience think about what social level they think they are. Sheila then finds out that Gerald her fianc�e was with this girl when she got fired from Millwards. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is similar to the original play because the Inspector came into their party changing the mood and turning what was a celebration for the family into a reflection on how amazing their lives really are. This shows that you're social class is just a cover-up for making mistakes, even though Mr Birling believes he can't be questioned by anyone but the Inspector is brave and breaks the social shield. Every family member being inspected is brought down to ground level by the Inspector which represents them being brought down to a different social level. This level is where the children and Edna are and where Eva Smith would have been had they not led to her death. To conclude I think that Priestley has done very well to portray how he feels about society and moral issues in a play that was written in times of high controversy. In act one he clearly shows the audience that it doesn't matter what social class your are you are still responsible for you actions. The Royal National Theatre production shows the same views more effectively by using modern stage technology such as rain and smoke to represent evil and the stage layout showing clearly social levels. Both productions work well to make the audience reflect on their lives. ...read more.

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