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How does J B Priestley deliver his moral message in “An Inspector Calls”?

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Introduction

How does J B Priestley deliver his moral message in "An Inspector Calls"? The message that J B Priestley delivers in "An Inspector Calls" relies on humanistic views and the thought that we are responsible for each other and that everyone should help each other and not neglect someone just because of their station in life. The hint about accepting responsibility for actions and learning from mistakes is also disguised within the message. Mr Birling is the main focal point of the message as he is portrayed as morally blind, selfish and not being able to accept his responsibility in the community. The play was set in 1912, prior to World War I, but was written in 1944, after World War II. Priestley wrote the play in hindsight and retrospect and he purposely made Mr Birling look stupid and pompous about his faith in the future. The era of the play is clearly displayed by Priestly, by describing the clothes that the family are wearing which relate to the year it is set in. The social classes also play a role in the play as the Birlings are shown to be the upper class that looks down on the lower classes, e.g. Eva Smith. "It was calculated in 1911 that the upper and middle classes, numbering between five and six million people, took two-thirds of the national income, while the working class of thirty-nine million existed on the remaining third. The lowest-paid of all workers were the women in the sweated trades, while the worst paid men were the agricultural labourers, of whom there were 650,000 in 1911 and whose earnings were often less than �1 a week". ...read more.

Middle

The questioning of the characters is not completed in chronological order. This use of dramatic irony makes Mrs Birling look foolish as a result of her unknowledgeable approach to Eric and his social life. Sheila: "He's been steadily drinking too much for the last two years..." Mrs B: (staggered) "It isn't true. You know him, Gerald..." Gerald: (apologetically) "I'm afraid it is, y'know..." - Page 32 Mrs Birling is made to look stupid and she later incriminates Eric before the Inspector questions him. In the Inspector's speech (page 56), the message that is given is that we are all responsible for each other. He also mentions "if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish". This relates to the fact that this whole experience for the Birlings has been a vicious nightmare, and that they will keep on living the nightmare until they learn their lesson in treating people and not relying on their social status and reputation. The Inspector uses many persuasive techniques during his speech. To involve the audience, he uses third person personal pronouns, such as we. The use of three is used to emphasise points that should help the Birlings to learn their lesson. "...Fire and blood and anguish..." - Page 56 Fire, blood and anguish conjure up the images of war, hell and power, and if the Birling's do not learn their lesson, theire lives will be hell until they do. "...Millions and millions and millions..." - Page 56 When the Inspector talks about being "members of one body", it could be linked with the idea of Communion is church and remembrance. ...read more.

Conclusion

If he refused to marry her - and in my opinion he ought to be compelled to - then he must at least support her" - Page 46 Mrs B: "She said that the father was only a youngster - silly and wild and drinking too much..." - Page 46 Mrs B: "Secondly, I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have. If, as she said, he didn't belong to her class, and was some drunken young idler, then that's all the more reason why he shouldn't escape. He should be made an example of. If the girl's death is due to anybody, then it's due to him. - Page 48 In the quotes above, Mrs Birling describes Eric's lifestyle. Mrs Birling refuses to believe the Inspector when he suggests that perhaps Eric was the father and that it was Eric who stole money, but as Eric enters the room, the truth is unveiled. She is also shown to be deluded and a fool. The methods Priestley has used to convey the moral message are mainly the ideas of social responsibility and he uses many persuasive techniques. Dramatic irony is also used to show his message especially when Mrs Birling is being questioned. Many different ideas can be used when staging the play. The Inspector is usually parted from the family to show his power and the house is shown to be lavish and upper class. The Inspector is shown to be well built and powerful over the family, and the family's intimidation is shown especially with the younger generations who learn their lesson, but the older generation does not. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Gullon 10AE An Inspector Calls Essay - June 2002 1 ...read more.

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