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How does Priestley convey the nature of 1912 England in An Inspector Calls? Evaluate the success of his methods.

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Introduction

How does Priestley convey the nature of 1912 England in An Inspector Calls? Evaluate the success of his methods. In the play An Inspector Calls, there is a great deal of information concerning the situation of England in 1912. Priestley has used various methods to show the audience, such as making certain characters mouthpieces; the roles of certain characters are important as well. In this essay, I am going to explore and evaluate several of these techniques. Priestley has used Inspector Goole as a way to convey the nature of 1912 in England. The character of the Inspector is somehow out of place in the era the play is set in. His name is a homophone of the word 'ghoul'; this suggests that he is a mysterious or even supernatural character. One of his purposes in the play is to act as a catalyst for the exposure of the Birling's household's immorality. He does this by several methods, such as interviewing each person individually to create pressure. He also keeps reminding the household of Eva Smith's death in detail. One example of this can be found in Act 1, page 11, where he tells the family of Eva's death. At the end of the sentence he adds, 'Burnt her inside out, of course"- revealing gruesome detail. ...read more.

Middle

This is seen in Act 2 page 40. She says just before she hands back his ring, "But just in case you forgot-or decide not to come back... you'd better take this with you." This act shows the idea of women having more freedom and say over marriage in that era. Data from the past have shown that the divorce rate and cases of unhappy marriage were common in 1920s. The after dinner speech of Mr Birling on pg 6 and 7 shows us a great deal about the nature of 1912 society in England. The main reason why Priestley wrote this sequence was to empathize the factors he criticizes about the upper-class in 1912 such as they were old-fashioned and snobbish. Here, Mr Birling talks about new technology and new attitudes in society. Most of the speech contains his opinions and views; these represent the attitudes of the upper class at that era. Ironically, most of his statements turn out to be false. An example of this is his conception of the ship, the Titanic. In his speech, he states that the ship was "unsinkable" whereas with hindsight, the ship did actually sunk when it hit an iceberg. As Priestley wrote this play in 1945, he already knew of the disaster. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here, she becomes his mistress, which was seen as unsuitable upon that era; although certain people did have them but did not publicly admit it or refuse to talk about the matter. Her involvement with Eric produced another moral panic, the thought of having sex before marriage-, which was seen as a taboo. All of these actions were against moral standards at the time but there were some who regularly practice them anyway. This is why Priestley has created the character of Eva- to use her actions as a symbol of all the immorality the upper-class were secretly hiding and to expose them to the audience of the play. Overall, there are two themes in which Priestley tried to bring out to the audience; one is that there was a lot of hypocrisy contained in the upper-class. They make disdainful comments on acts such as one having mistresses and sex before marriage whilst some indulge in these practise themselves. Another theme in this play he points out is the treatment of the class system. The story of Eva Smith reflects on the attitude the rich had on the poor in the era, which caused a great deal of inequality. Priestley put some of his own views in the play with the most important one as being everyone has to look out and support one another, which is leaning towards the idea of socialism (a popular ideology in the 1910s). ...read more.

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