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How does JB Priestley use dramatic devices in Act One of An Inspector Calls to convey his ideas and concerns to an audience, and involve them in the play?

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How does JB Priestley use dramatic devices in Act One of 'An Inspector Calls' to convey his ideas and concerns to an audience, and involve them in the play? 'An Inspector Calls' is a play written by J.B. Priestley in 1945, based before World War I, in 1912. The play is mainly about the Birling's, who are an upper - middle class family. They live in a household where the priority is themselves and the house is full of lies and selfishness. Throughout the play an unknown Inspector slowly but surely reveals the true identity and personality of the characters by showing them how they all contributed to the suicide of a young girl Eva Smith. Priestley's main concerns at the time of writing this play were about the state of society and the massive gap between the rich and the poor. Priestley's play is heavily influenced by his own experiences and emotions in life. In my view 'An Inspector Calls' is not just a gripping detective story but a moral tale. The play teaches us that every action has a consequence and that we should look after other people as well as ourselves. These were also JB Priestley's views and tried to convey his ideas in the play. Throughout the play, up until the inspectors' arrival, JB Priestley portrays a false sense of security. He does this by telling us that the Birling's are having a party. ...read more.


At this moment the Inspector is speaking to the Birlings about the suicide of Eva Smith. Eric's outburst suggests that he has something to say about the girl and then thinks better of it. The audience only realise that he knew the girl long after this happens. Sheila's comment 'half playful, half serious' is talking about the time when Gerald was gone all summer. We realise after that Gerald also has connections with the girl. We find out that Gerald looked after the girl all last summer (when he was away from Sheila). This is another example of retrospective irony. Moving on, dramatic irony is used by JB Priestley as another dramatic device to further express his idea of the upper class. The most significant place where this is used is when Mr Birling makes his speech early in the scene. This speech shows Mr Birlings and for that matter the Birling family's idea of society and the community. Birlings speaks on the Titanic, 'the Titanic, she sails next week, forty six thousand eight hundred tons - forty six thousand eight hundred tons. New York in five days time and every luxury and unsinkable'. He also speaks of World War One, 'I say there isn't a chance of war'. Both of these are statements obviously wrong to the audience and Birling is made to look a fool. ...read more.


The Inspector only shows the Birling family the photograph of the dead young woman one at a time; this could mean that he shows different members of the family different photos just to teach them a lesson in looking after others and thinking about the implications of their actions. In conclusion, J.B. Priestly uses dramatic devices in a very close relation to his concerns about the state of society. Throughout the play dramatic devices are used a lot. When a certain dramatic device is used, it will have a close connection with a concern of Priestley's views on society. Each quote made will in some way lead back to Priestley's perception of the type and personality of character that he is portraying. The impact that Priestley creates is incredibly influential and makes the audience fully appreciate the vast difference between the rich and the poor. I believe that Priestley had an aim to make his audience understand more the vast gap between the rich and the poor. He wanted those on the poor side to continue sharing, continue helping, taking responsibility and telling the truth, but he didn't want them to lay down and accept the punishment that the rich were giving them. And, obviously he wanted the play to give the richer section of the population an insight into what could easily happen if personalities and views were not changed. J.B. Priestley almost certainly changed the way that people looked at social inequality and his play will have changed the state of society. Conor Brennan ...read more.

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