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

How does Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device in "An Inspector Calls", and how far should we see him as the "mouthpiece" for Priestley's moral and social views?

Extracts from this document...


How does Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic device in "An Inspector Calls", and how far should we see him as the "mouthpiece" for Priestley's moral and social views? "An Inspector Calls" by J.B Priestley was first performed in 1945. The play was set in 1912 before the war; it centres on the wealthy Birling family. A visit from the mysterious Inspector Goole proves to be a horrifying experience for the Birlings as they learn that they have all played a part in the suicide of a young girl called Eva Smith. 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. Priestly attempts to convey his attitudes and ideas through the characters in the play. He uses the Inspector to voice his own opinions. The Birlings are used to demonstrate how not to behave. The time span between the dates used (1945-1912) is to make us aware of what has happened and learn from mistakes made. 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. ...read more.


It also symbolizes the fact that he is an unstoppable force within the play and gives him the thoughtfulness that contrasts with the thoughtlessness of each character's treatment of the girl. His role in the play is not simply to confront each character with the truth, but to force each character to admit the truth they already know. He works methodically through the characters present one at a time, partly because he recognizes that 'otherwise, there's a muddle', and partly because, given the chance, the characters are all quick to defend each other, or to call upon outside help (such as Colonel Roberts) in order to avoid accepting the truth of what he suggests. He arrives just after Birling has been setting out his views of life: that every man must only look out for himself. The Inspector's role is to show that this is not the case. Throughout the play he demonstrates how people are responsible for how they affect the lives of others; his views are summed up in his visionary and dramatic final speech. Responsibility is one of the play's two key themes, and the Inspector is Priestley's mouthpiece for putting across his own views of this as a socialist. In his final speech, he is speaking as much to the audience as to the characters on stage. ...read more.


The inspector brings the play to a close, summarising Priestley's message when he says, "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other" exactly the opposite of what we are told to believe by Mr. Birling, that everybody should look after themselves. Priestley conveyed his message well, showing us how the situation can be changed and who to depend on to change it. Each character is punished in a just way. Birling fears for his family's reputation; Sheila's ashamed of her actions; Gerald's affair has been revealed in front of Sheila; Eric has been revealed in front of his family as a spoilt and laughable man; Mrs. Birling's illusions about the respectability of her family have been shattered to pieces. But Inspector is not the one who brings about the punishment, it is the consequence of their own actions. when priestly wrote this play he wanted to show us that we can change, and we can decide which views we side with. Priestley wanted the audience and us to learn from the mistakes of the Birling's. I think Priestley wanted to make a difference in the way that people think. Then, if you think about each person coming out of the play and giving a penny to a beggar on the street or even a little thing as treating a person of lower class with respect that they deserve, I would say that Priestley has achieved his aims in writing the play. By Diana Rough 10L1 ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Inspector Goole functions as a mouthpiece for Priestleys ideas. What is his function? How ...

    3 star(s)

    This is shown where he explains to Birling that his way of thinking "Every man must only look out for himself," is not the case, and everyone is interlinked. The view is best portrayed in the Inspectors final speech, where he says, "We don't live alone.

  2. J.B Priestley's use of language, character, and setting for dramatic effect in 'An Inspector ...

    I believe that the playwright's plot unravels extremely well. The character's tone of voice are crucial towards the play because it is one way that the audience gets to see the characters cracking and it shows us that they're hiding things that the Inspector isn't meant to hear.

  1. How does Priestley use time as a dramatic device in 'An Inspector Calls'? How ...

    This accentuates further dramatic irony, considering that the audience from 1947 have the wisdom of hindsight and can see that 1914 and 1939 brought two wars. The audience thus humiliates Mr Birling, as he portrays himself as a "hard-headed business man" but is only proven wrong.

  2. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    The affair didn't last long but Eva understood why they had to split up. Gerald had made her happy for a while. When they split up Gerald gave her some money. "I insisted on a parting gift of enough money ".

  1. An Inspector CallsHow does Priestley use the character of the Inspector to convey his ...

    She seems horrified by the way she reacts that somebody could speak in that way to a lady of her class. Her behaviour shows how full of self-importance some people can be. Like her husband, Mrs. Birling refuses to accept any responsibility for the death of Eva Smith.

  2. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley - To what extent is each character responsible ...

    put all the pieces together herself with the help of the Inspector; she knew then at once that she had helped play a part in the suicide of Eva Smith. However, Sheila accepts her contribution in helping Eva commit suicide.

  1. An Inspector Calls - Compare and contrast the reactions of the older generation and ...

    For a full and true understanding of 'An Inspector Calls', one must first have a knowledge and understanding of how the dates of the play (the date it was set, the date it was first shown, and the dates of major world events that occurred between the time of it's setting and the time of it's first showing)

  2. 'An Inspector Calls' is a play with important messages for any society'. Explore the ...

    Suddenly they realise that it may not have been four or five girls that they affected, but just one. This led her to suicide; the family finally feels guilt and is stunned. We do not know what happens at the end of the play for a very simple reason.

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