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How does Priestley's play give an audience a dramatic experience in which they are made to think about how people ought to live their lives?

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Introduction

Kathryn Paddock "An Inspector Calls" Monday 16th February 2004 Title: How does Priestley's play give an audience a dramatic experience in which they are made to think about how people ought to live their lives? Answer with reference to the script and any productions you may have seen or heard about. J.B. Priestley wrote 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945, at the end of the Second World War and set the 20th Century drama in 1912, just before the First World War. Many of the audience of the play therefore would have lived through the horrors of the First World War and all through the Second. J.B Priestley may have chosen to set 'An Inspector Calls', at a pre-war date to compare society at these two points in time. The precise setting of the play is on the night of Sunday 14th April 1912, the evening the Titanic sunk. The Titanic was a symbol of the hopes and achievements of the age, and was considered unsinkable. Perhaps Priestley chose this date to symbolise the Inspector as the Iceberg that destroys the Birling family's ship. The Birling family are a rich, upper class family who have profited from the Industrial Revolution. The Birling's are represented in 'An Inspector Calls' as the uncaring class of the rich people in Britain. ...read more.

Middle

The play is set two years after the Conciliation Bill on women's vote, therefore it is set during a time of social change and one in which justice had to be fought for strongly. The Inspector is a mysterious character and J.B Priestley manipulates the audience's preconceptions of what an Inspector is meant to be like, when the Inspector crosses the boundaries normally imposed in a criminal inquiry. The Inspector tests the Birling's beliefs that they lead responsible and respectable lives as members of society and puts them in the place of somebody who is socially and materialistically less fortunate than themselves. Eric and Sheila are particularly affected by the Inspector's inspection of their family by their remarks, 'He was our police inspector all right' and 'he inspected us all right'. Priestley does not give the Inspector a specific identity and the audience, are constantly reinterpreting the role of the Inspector throughout the play. The Inspector is a symbolic character and J.D Priestley uses him to express his own opinions and beliefs about society. The Inspector makes the audience think about what can happen, if society does not change it's views and ways of life as the war is mentioned by the Inspector at the end of the play, almost as a warning of what will happen. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dramatic irony is used here, in order to show the audience Priestley's views so that they can reflect upon his ideas to try and prevent another World War happening. The characters in the play and maybe even the audience of this drama may judge themselves due to the moral force that the Inspector conveys. I think J.B Priestley uses a moral at the end of the play to reinforce his views and opinions and to make the audience think about what happened throughout the play and how they are responsible for the actions that they take in everyday life. The audience therefore leaves the theatre feeling slightly guilt about the way in which they treat people but optimistic that there will not be another world war and that things will change if they all put together, like they did in the First World War. The message that 'An Inspector Calls' presents, in my opinion is still relevant to a 21st Century audience. Although we are not on the brink of another world war and we live in a Socialist Britain, the message the Inspector gives is of taking Social Responsibility for the actions we take and makes us think about the way we live our lives; this message is presented through a thoroughly stimulating and exciting experience. Name: Kathryn Paddock Form: 11R Date: 16th February 2004 Title: Prose Study- Post 1914 Teacher: Mrs E. Price Pages: 3 Total word count: 1687 Topic: "An Inspector Calls" ...read more.

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