How does J. B. Priestley use the characters of Mr. Birling and Sheila to get across the ideas and themes in an inspector call?
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How does J. B. Priestley use the characters of Mr. Birling and Sheila to get across the ideas and themes in an inspector call? . An Inspector Calls is a play that centers on morals, political views and highlighting to a 1946 audience how things have changed dramatically since 1912. Priestley uses the play to communicate his socialist views this is done is many ways throughout the play and the main way he does this is though his characters. But before the characters even do something the set tells the audience a lot about the characters that are about to speak. A large dining- Room, elegantly decorated expressing the fact that the family dining there is of an upper-middle-class status. The period furnishing Identifies to the audience that the play is set in 1912, a year where the unsinkable Titanic sank on its maiden voyage and a great war would be waged two years later. Then after that the Russian revolution and the great depression which has a great impact on the capitalist nations of the world. Once the play has started certain things are thrown forward about Mr Birling and Sheila, Mr. Birling talks far more than the other characters in the first section of Act One often clearing his throat to stop people cutting-in this would show the audience how he feels he has vast knowledge to share with his family.
Half way through one of Birlings speeches the doorbell rings and the inspector arrives. The Inspector is a man of firmness. Though of medium height the dialogue describes him of having a certain 'massiveness' about him, and he addresses each character with a firm stare. Throughout the play he remains calm, firm and solid. The inspector is the socialist representative in the play and therefore there is a lot of friction between him and Mr. Birling who of course represents capitalism. Throughout the whole of the Inspectors questioning to all the characters Birlings stage directions often read furious, moves impatiently, cutting in and angry. These all give pointers to the actor and then to the audience that Birling does not like his authority being challenged and particularly when he public image is at stack, he seems to get more angry when his children are being questioned than when he was maybe because he thinks his children are more likely to him damage. During his confrontation with the Inspector Birling tries to intimidate him by threatening him "I ought to warn you he is an old friend of me"(Birling is talking about the Chief constable) this really shows how nervous Birling becomes about how his chance of a Knighthood could be in trouble.
Birling suddenly jumps into action and talks of how it was a hoax "By Jingo! A Fake!" While Birling is thinking about what to do next he does not realize that he has lost both of his children. Sheila at this point brakes away from what has been expected of her and begins to tell her parents how there reactions are wrong she now becomes the representative of socialism since the inspector has left "you're just beginning to pretend all over again". This is one of the major messages of the play, that the younger generation learn from the events and change for the better by this happening priestly shows that his 1946 audience that they should not cling to the past but also change and try and lead a more socialist life. He has taught the audience that responsibility for ones actions is a key role in life, for though not one person is solely to blame for Eva's death they're still involved in her drastic actions to take her own life. His meaning: just because you are not all together to blame doesn't mean you are not to be blamed at all. And so Priestley has successfully conveyed his personal opinions of socialism and capitalism. By reading and watching the play "An Inspector Calls" we are able to understand the differences between denial and morals, those of which Priestley believed in.
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