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How Does J.B Priestley Establish The Social And Historical Period In The First 10 Pages And Why Did He Set It In 1912?

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Introduction

How Does J.B Priestley Establish The Social And Historical Period In The First 10 Pages And Why Did He Set It In 1912? From reading the first 10 pages of "An Inspector Calls" I can infer several different ways in which J.B Priestley shows the reader that the play is set in the Edwardian period. Priestley has established the social period by using numerous techniques such as the way he portrays the characters, their use of language, their behaviour and their actions. These elements combine to create the social division which was present at the time in which the play is set. Priestley has established the historical period with his effective use of stage directions, set and also the language used by the characters. Although it is not known for certain as to why Priestley wrote the play in 1945, yet set it in 1912, there are relevant explanations that may have contributed to his decision to set the play in the Edwardian era. These explanations are as follows; political persuasion, to promote socialism, to create dramatic irony, to allow the audience to be involved or to reflect his own life. ...read more.

Middle

During the Edwardian era, there was inequality between men and women; women had lack of equal treatment compared to men. This is illustrated when Mrs Birling says, "...I think Sheila and I had better go into the drawing-room and leave you men-". This is said as if the men have the right to be left in peace. This is also demonstrated when Eric says, "Mother says we mustn't stay too long. But I don't think it matters." This shows that the men had the final decision over the women. Priestley establishes the historical period in numerous ways. The first being stage directions. In the introductory of act 1, Priestley states how the family are dressed with the quote, "All five are in the evening dress of the period, the men in tails and white ties, not dinner jackets." This shows that the play is set in the Edwardian period as this type of dress code was common for upper and middle class people on special occasions. The language used by the characters conveys what period they are living in. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Mr Birling's speech at the beginning of the play, he proudly states that "as a hard-headed businessman" he thinks that "there isn't a chance of war" and that the Titanic is "absolutely unsinkable". With the play being published after two world wars and the sinking of the Titanic, Priestley makes the audience think that Birling is a fool. This allows the audience to get involved with the play, as they know something that Mr Birling doesn't. Finally, Priestley may have written the play to reflect his own life. Priestley fought in World War One, and was a radio newscaster during World War Two. He witnessed both of these wars that were being fought in order to save society. In "An Inspector Calls" written just after World War Two, J.B. Priestley seems to be asking the question, "Just what kind of society are we fighting to save?" In conclusion, there are many ways in which Priestley has effectively established the social and historical period of the play, making it clear for the reader without stating the obvious. What is arguably harder to infer, is why he set the play in 1912. However, there are very relevant suggestions which could be why he decided to do so. ...read more.

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