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For what purpose does J.B. Priestly adapt the conventions of a typical murder mystery in 'An Inspector Calls' and how might his purposes influence a directors interpretation of the play?

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Introduction

For what purpose does J.B. Priestly adapt the conventions of a typical murder mystery in 'An Inspector Calls' and how might his purposes influence a directors interpretation of the play? The title of the play 'An Inspector Calls' gives the expectation that the play is a typical murder mystery, with a body being found and an inspector being called in to investigate, with a twist in the plot at the end when the culprit is revealed. However, this it is no normal murder mystery. The title is, therefore, somewhat misleading and the audience's response to the play is not what they would expect. For example, the way the inspector turned up uninvited and his manner towards the Birlings is not that of a conventional murder mystery. The first way in which 'An inspector calls' is unlike other murder mysteries is that there is no murder and no discovery of a body. Only through the arrival of the inspector do we learn about the apparent suicide of Eva Smith. Priestly then uses the 'whodunit' convention, as the inspector gradually unfolds the circumstances leading to the death of Eva Smith. However, the inspector does more than this, by pressurising each of the characters in turn, he forces them to reveal what they did to Eva Smith and why. ...read more.

Middle

The role of Inspector Goole is to force the other characters to see the consequences of their actions; he could almost be seen as their conscience. The reactions of the characters shows another way Priestly tries to get the purpose across. While Sheila and Eric still feel very upset and guilty, even after they found out that Eva didn't die and Inspector Goole was a fake, Gerald and Mr and Mrs. Birling joke about it and tell the other two to forget about it. Gerald expects Sheila to take the back the engagement ring and forget that he and she had ever done anything wrong. Sheila however shows a little dignity and remorse and refuses "No, not yet. It's too soon. I must think". The inspector however is the main way that Priestly puts his message across. Goole's speech towards the end of the play has a lot of messages: "One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions......of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left......all intertwined with our lives......we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." When the inspector said that there were more Eva Smiths he was telling the Birlings that they couldn't make up for what they had done but they could learn by their mistakes and help others, like Eva, instead of treating them like dirt. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, if the audience didn't fully understand the play they are likely to go away and think about it therefore Priestly's messages would show through and they might begin to realise that the play was simply telling people to treat people equally and that the play could have many different endings. Audiences over the years will have been affected in different ways by the play. When the play was written, shortly after the second world war, people will have thought the play to be upsetting and in places ironic. For example in Mr. Birling's speech towards the beginning of the play he says how the Titanic is unsinkable and that the Germans don't want war, the audience of the age would however know that the Titanic did sink and that the Germans did want war - they wanted two wars! However, an audience watching the play today wouldn't interpret the play in the same way, they might associate it with the differences between different classes which is still clear at least 50 years after the play was written. Or it might be linked with the large number of people living in poverty in Britain and the rest of the world. However the play is interpreted I believe that most people would realise that there is a message hidden in the play and that is to treat someone else how you would expect them to treat you. Elizabeth Pope 10T ...read more.

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