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

How does Priestley make a drama out of the theme of social responsibility in the play An Inspector Calls?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Bethan Hull 10.8 October 2000 An Inspector Calls How does Priestley make a drama out of the theme of social responsibility in the play An Inspector Calls? The play tells the story of a middle class family and how they have all contributed to a young working class woman's suicide. Priestley has set the play in 1912 as a way of making the audience of 1946 look back on their past. The consequence of setting the play 30 years or so earlier is that the audience can know more about events than the characters. He is also making people realise how social values have changed, for the better. In a way, the audience can relate to the Birling family, which brings across the message of the play far more intimately. The audience feel like they could be in the same position as the Birling's, bringing the theme of the play closer to home. The dramatic irony relating to the audience's knowledge is particularly apparent in Mr Birling's speech to Gerald and Eric. Priestley is revealing aspects of the character to the audience; in this 'progress' speech there are numerous examples of this device. He paints a very rosy picture of life for them, going on at length about how safe and prosperous the world is. ...read more.

Middle

For example, at Mr Birling's remark about how the Inspector has made a "mess" of their "nice little family celebration", the Inspector retorts that when he saw what was left of Eva Smith he thought "a nice little promising life there" and "a nasty mess somebody's made of it." He has thrown Mr Birling's anger back in his face, making him realise how petty he seems. Furthermore, the Inspector can always outwit the Birling's, especially Mr Birling. The Inspector will always take the opposing view to Mr Birling and get the last word, pointing out to Mr Birling that "its better to ask for the world than to take it." Eva is cleverly and symbolically named. Priestley has set her up as the archetypal lower class woman. The name Eva is a form of Eve, i.e. Adam and Eve, representing the first and only woman, so she represents the entire female sex. Smith is a common name; therefore she belongs to the lower classes. Eva is the key of the play, the topic of conversation and the reason for the investigation. Most importantly, she is used to evoke emotion from the audience and characters. She binds everything and everyone together. Bethan Hull 10.8 Sheila, for very little reason gets Eva sacked from the job she loved. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, the story told through the investigation, the mystery concludes with the confrontation of the murderer and order is restored. An Inspector Calls is similar to a murder mystery; there is a body, evidence, an inspector and several suspects. The audience would be familiar with a traditional murder mystery so this element of the play would appeal to them. However, it is also different, due to one key fact. Eva Smith committed suicide; she was not murdered. Also, the guilt is not pinned on one person; the Birling's and Gerald share the guilt and blame. The Birling's actions were not illegal, but were immoral. Though none of them actually committed a crime, it was a combination of what they all did that lead to Eva taking her own life. Within the family, things do not return to normal; they have to live with what they did. Priestley's intentions would have been that the plight of the Birling's would make people aware of how their seemingly insignificant actions can affect others. In other words, they have a responsibility to the whole of society, not just themselves and their family. In conclusion, Priestley has successfully made a drama of social responsibility. Although this play is not action packed, it is thought provoking. It is designed to deliver a message, in an entertaining way, which it has successfully done. This play is a classic and will always be admired by its audience. ...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. The Theme of an Inspector Calls is Collective Responsibility. How Does J.B. Priestley present ...

    In Act 1 Shelia gets Eva the sack from her job in Millwards, because the glimpse of Eva holding the dress against her and suiting it so much better, produces a jealous rage. However when Eric, who on hearing this tale begins to criticise, Shelia shows remorse for her action

  2. How does Priestley explore the theme of responsibility in the play, An Inspector Calls?

    This immediately unnerves and discomfits a person. He has a very concise way of questioning and interrogating his suspects and as a policeman he is always in control, adapting the manner in which he addresses the family members to suit their personalities.

  1. Examine How Priestley Uses a Variety of Dramatic Devices To Highlight the Theme of ...

    Whereas, Eric and Shelia would never be the same again because they had learnt what they did. Shelia and Eric are amazed that their parents haven't learnt anything form this saga. Shelia respected the truth and in the play she had more knowledge of unpleasant things than her family.

  2. We are all members of one body. We are responsible for each ...

    As soon as the Inspector comes and speaks to her normally, she is shocked. I think you can tell this by her short answers that go straight to the point. "I meant what I said." Most of what she says is never more than a line long.

  1. The Inspector Says "We're all responsible for each other". Mr Birling Says "A man ...

    Sheila is Mr and Mrs Birling's only daughter. Young and unmarried, she still lives with her parents. Overjoyed to be engaged to Gerald, at the start of the play, she receives her ring on the day and everything is going smoothly.

  2. Examine the theme of responsibility throughout an inspector calls

    However Sheila displays her compassionate side, in the beginning Sheila appeared as an uncaring person but eventually she showed us her true side. The quote "don't please ... I know, I know ... I can't stop thinking about it" this indicates the guilt that she is feeling for the Eva death.

  1. An Inspector Calls - Discuss the view that Eva Smith was an immoral troublemaker ...

    They [the shop owners] admitted that." (Inspector). Shelia admits that she had been in a foul temper, and had taken it out on Eva by telling the manager of Milwards "that if they didn't get rid of that girl, I'd never go near the place again and I'd persuade mother to close our account with them".

  2. Priestley presents ideas about responsibility in an 'An Inspector Calls'

    'fire, blood and anguish' giving the audience an underlying sense of unease at the reference to war, therefore showing them the consequences of a lack of responsibility and highlighting that the inspector is the voice of morality. This ironic hindsight into the war also gives the audience a sense of the inspector's wisdom.

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