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

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Sarah Duke How does J B Priestley use the Inspector as a voice for social change? ?An Inspector Calls? written by J B Priestley in 1945 is a murder mystery intended to portray Priestley?s social issues. He sets the play in Brumley which is described as being a large manufacturing town in the Midlands where there are two sides of society, the rich and the poor. He also sets the play in 1912, which was a particularly bad year for industries due to many strikes. Priestley wrote this play intentionally as he saw an urgent need for social change and used the play to express his desire for social equality. He also uses the characters to convey his own attitudes. The Birlings are used to demonstrate how not to behave and the Inspector is used to show Priestley?s own thoughts and opinions. Priestley hoped his play would give society the chance to look back on the past and not just carry on life in the same way as before. J B Priestley took full advantage of writing in observation and makes sure that it will make the audience realize how wrong they may have been assuming future events. This is demonstrated throughout the play by a character called Arthur Birling. The inspector is an important character in the play as he makes the other characters think about their actions and tries to change the way they live their lives. ...read more.


The Inspector is still quite harsh with Sheila ?she wasn?t pretty when I saw her today? but she, unlike her father begins to regret her actions and admits what she has done wrong. Her stage directions suggest Sheila?s guilt, ?miserably? and ?distressed?. She quickly accepts responsibility for what she has done as the Inspector says ?you might be said to have been jealous of her? and she replies ?yes, I suppose so?. Sheila almost becomes an assistant to the Inspector as she begins to understand that avoiding the truth is useless in the face of his questioning. She knows that the other characters cannot avoid being confronted by the awful truth of their responsibility for the death of Eva/Daisy because he knows what it is they have done already. The Inspector throughout the play is omniscient as he works backwards to try and get the characters to confess. Priestley uses the younger generation to convey his message of community by allowing Sheila to accept the blame and feel guilt for her actions. The audience see her as being a role model for how people should behave with a social conscience. When the Inspector first finds out Gerald Croft is there he is both intrigued and shocked to find out the news that Gerald and Sheila are engaged. The inspector treats Gerald quite harshly, similar to Mr Birling; ?sometimes there isn?t. But some things are left. ...read more.


The Inspector deals with Eric calmly but firmly as there is less need to be blunt. This contrasts with the investigation before with Mrs Birling. The Inspector doesn?t have to be as harsh to Eric as he admits what he?s done. At the end of the play, like Sheila, he is fully aware of his social responsibility. He is not interested in his parents' efforts to cover everything up: as far as he is concerned, the important thing is that a girl is dead. "We did her in all right." In conclusion, Priestley thought that people should be equal in society as uses the Birling?s who were capitalists to show this. The main social message is that people should be able to feel equal. So the Birling?s would be no better than 'Eva Smith/Daisy Renton', but instead they would be equal. Priestley uses the Inspector to point out what is wrong with the way the family thinks for example, about how they should consider the consequences of their actions. All the way through the play the audience/reader in this case is meant to feel empathy for the girl so are made to dislike the Birling family. Therefore Priestley gets his political message across by showing the audience how the Birling?s way of thinking can hurt people. Gerald and Mr and Mrs Birling?s way of life never seem to change throughout the whole play, however Sheila and Eric?s do. ?We often do on the young ones. They?re more impressionable?. This quote implies Priestley thought that the younger generation were the best hope for social change. ...read more.

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