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How far is "An Inspector Calls" a Murder Mystery?

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Introduction

How far is "An Inspector Calls" a Murder Mystery? Within the play "An Inspector Calls" written by J.B. Priestley, many contrasts arise around the query of the play being typical of the murder mystery genre, or that which contrast the murder mystery theme. Within this essay, I will explore the aspects of a murder mystery and the aspects of a play not relating to the murder mystery genre, such as topics of historical and political context. To begin with, I will explore the aspects of a typical murder mystery. Firstly, an Inspector/Policeman who interrogates the potential suspects and investigates the crime. Although this is simple and instantly recognizable, it is a highly superior characteristic of a murder mystery play. During the play, the Inspector attempts to assemble the evidence and clues he has drawn together from the characters within the play. He also works things out to compose a logical motive for the crime committed. By doing so, he gathers numerous characters that are all connected to the crime and are all, therefore, suspects. Suspects are considered the focal point of a murder mystery play, as they reveal the clues through the developing plot. Without the suspects within this play, the play would not be a murder mystery, but just a play containing a murder. Additionally, a typical murder mystery consists of many tension techniques, which "An Inspector Calls" contains. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, a theme that is predominant within the play is lies and deception. Every characters lies, though some conceal more importance than the others do. The Inspector lies throughout the play to the fellow characters and the audience; however, this demonstrates to the characters, including the audience, to be responsible for your actions that would inflict unwanted emotions upon other people. In addition, it demonstrates how to accept any member of society despite differentiations through the class system. Mr. Birling lied to mask the legal crime Eric had committed as he stole money from his office. Mr. Birling did this so his reputable business, considering Gerald's fathers business, would remain secure and successful. "I've got to cover this up as soon as I can." This deceptive behaviour leads me onto the next aspect of a murder mystery. This is crime. The majority of characters commit moral crimes, for which they cannot be punished for, however the Inspector attempts persecution. The omission is Eric, who committed a legal crime. "Eric: I got it - from the office - Birling: My office? Eric: Yes." This is typical of a murder mystery, as murder mysteries often have crimes committed. Although within "An Inspector Calls", the majority of crimes committed are moral, rather than legal crimes. Despite "An Inspector Calls" containing many aspects of a murder mystery, the play also encloses aspects and clues that are not categorised into the murder mystery genre. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of the exploitation of dramatic irony to portray Priestley's thoughts on War would be Arthur Birling's "No War" speech: "The Germans don't want war. Nobody wants war, except half-civilised folks in the Balkans. And why? There's too much at stake these days. Everything to lose and nothing to gain by war." Mr. Birling's speech is making the Birlings class appear arrogant and out of touch with reality. As this play was set before the war, this speech by Birling could be considered correct, but as the play was performed after the war (in 1945), it is perceptible to the audience that the characters are incorrect. Furthermore, the historical context within this play is linked well together with the social background, as the society was re-building itself and the class division was destroyed, making everyone equal. Therefore, Priestley's thoughts on war, and the connotations encoded within the plot, make it palpable for the audience to realise the denseness of class division as it shows that snobbishness and selfishness are to be frowned upon. To conclude, "An Inspector Calls" could be considered a murder mystery in many simplistic and obvious ways. On the other hand, the play could be considered a political play from a more complex view from the audience, as Priestley encouraged his readers to decide for themselves about his play. "An Inspector Calls" carries very important and superior connotations, which need to be acknowledged, about our society. Sarah Holmes 10y 23rd November 2003 ...read more.

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