• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does J.B Priestley use 'An Inspector Calls' as a vehicle to express social and moral concerns?

Extracts from this document...


How does J.B Priestley use 'An Inspector Calls' as a vehicle to express social and moral concerns? 'An Inspector Calls' was written by J.B. Priestley at the end of World War Two (1945) to express discontent regarding social barriers. The war had softened the 'walls' separating the classes because people were combined, working towards a shared aim. The war had brought women's responsibility into society; the nation was bonded because of the common enemy and the Welfare State was being established, thus creating more equality. People wanted life to remain unprejudiced. Surely the war had been fought for more than triumph but for a new balance in humanity? The play therefore carries a strong political agenda. The conclusion and moral message is to be considerate to others and distribute responsibility: which of course is a socialist motivation. The play is arranged in the pattern of an orthodox detective mystery: a standard exterior, but in fact it delivers a compelling moral theme. The drama is entirely performed in the dining room of the Birlings' family property, in the suburbs of an industrial city: Brumley. Priestley initially detaches the audience of 1945 by use of the period costume of 1912. This ingenious ploy initially makes it difficult to identify with a specific character. ...read more.


The name 'Eva Smith' shows just how much she could have been anybody; in the sense that if we all work together anybody can be capable of anything. The other characters in the play are also representations: - Birling is a limited man and is wrong about many things in the play. He is a terribly pompous, na�ve character, who likes to make speeches. He has a-lot of false optimism, is incredibly ambitious and socially pretentious. Priestley describes him on the stage as a 'rather portentous man', full of self-importance and greed. He twice mentions his far from definite knighthood as a way of impressing Gerald. Gerald Croft considers himself a good match for Sheila, he is an aristocrat who contradicts the whole moral significance of the play: by implying that if one is sufficiently respectable one is above crime. I think these two characters (as well as Mrs Birling) represent the upper class and perhaps, the capitalists. Sheila, Birling's daughter and Gerald's fianc�e is more perceptive than the other characters and she has the potential to develop a moral conscience, which is conveyed when she first senses the abnormal power of the inspector. Progressively throughout the play Sheila develops from an inexperienced juvenile, into a modern woman with the power to make her own decisions. ...read more.


They are the only two who have fully understood the depth of their behaviour. Sheila frantically pleads with the other characters to feel remorse for their actions but with no success, she admits defeat. The phone rings and they are told to expect the call of an inspector. All had not fully learnt the lesson and so must face their fate: of which the Inspector warned them. Only two of five people had learnt the moral message, and so the play ends leaving the audience to speculate about how this moral lesson can be applied to their own lives. The majority of the characters had missed the whole point of collective responsibility and therefore, in my opinion have got what they deserved. In a conventional mystery, the plot gets clearer and clearer until the conclusion where the murderer is revealed. Here, there is an inspector; we take him to be an inspector. There is a crime. We expect a conclusion, a 'round up' of the events that have occurred. But at the very end, we realise everything we have taken for real and unfeigned is not. In a typical detective drama, a single culprit separates the guilty and the innocent. Here, this does not apply; and this conveys the need for joint responsibility in this sort of crime; and as a result is very significant in every society. 1Lucy Tyler ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    time and there relevance to modern day society as well as fifty years ago. The play demonstrates the human inability to recognise mistakes and identify guilt. For example as soon as the inspector leaves, although guilty, the Birling elders forgive themselves and return to their self assured lives.

  2. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector ...

    Eric revealed how he came into contact with Eva Smith. Eva and Eric met in a bar and they had a few drinks but they got drunk and Eric insisted to stay with her for the night and that is when they slept with each other.

  1. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    The mysteries begin after the inspector leaves the family home. This is when each person feels at the most tension that they have all felt through the play. It is as if after he leaves they need something to distract them from the thought of being irresponsible in their actions.

  2. The Theme of an Inspector Calls is Collective Responsibility. How Does J.B. Priestley present ...

    Sheila, 'You knew it then. You began to learn something and now you've stopped.' - Eric -'And I agree with Sheila.' Act 3 Gerald Croft the coveted fianc� is a well bred and educated young man. However he has not used his position well, using it only for his own ends.

  1. How does Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device in "An Inspector Calls", ...

    is a spirit which takes fresh life from corpses, and Inspector's existence is a result of the girl's death. If he is not a real Inspector, what is he? A clever impostor (but nonetheless human)? The representation of the social conscience the characters all lack or restrain?

  2. How does JB Priestley present the social issues of the Edwardian period in 'An ...

    Eric Birling is a heavy drinker and is a regular in the palace bar. He cared for Eva and tried to help her. He tried to do what was morally right even if he did not accomplish it. He is like his sister Sheila; they both still felt that they

  1. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley is a play about an inspector who tries ...

    same society and treat less unfortunate people like they are not significant in this world and should just be thrown aside for those from the upper class of society. After this scene though there is an almost humorous scene when Mr.Birling discovers that the husband who she is ordering to get punished 'severely' is her son.

  2. How does J B Priestley use the Inspector as a voice for social change?

    All of these factors that Priestley has used to present Mrs Birling?s character combine and reach a climax at the end of her interrogation by the Inspector in Act 2 resulting in her true character being revealed to the audience.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work