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How is "An Inspector Calls" a well-made play?

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Introduction

How is "An Inspector Calls" a well-made play? J.B Priestley uses all the techniques required for a well-made play. He focuses on the classical unities of time, action and place to create a play which makes the audience think, not only about the actions of the characters on stage but also about the way society behaves. Priestley uses the play to speak out against social discrimination and prejudice. He does this in a subtle way so that the audience learn the truth about a typical higher-class family without realising it. He makes no effort in the play to show another side to his argument that, before and during the war, upper class people were selfish, bigoted and self-centred. I think the way in which Priestley communicates this message is made all the more impressive because he does so within the constraints of a well-made play. The main purpose of any play is to entertain the audience. To do this it must be interesting, dramatic, different, moving and give realistic events that the audience can relate to. In a well-made play the writer must incorporate all of these elements by using certain techniques and following basic guidelines. These involve the classical unities of time, action and place, which must all be realistic; themes, exposition, blackmail and twists in the plot, which should be used to keep the audience interested; and the characters, who have to have a wide range of personalities such as a basic evil villain to a loveable hero in order to give the audience someone to relate to. ...read more.

Middle

By doing this Preistley creates a simple story line which doesn't confuse the audience and which makes the illogical ending more of a shock. Just as the play uses one plot to keep it simple, there is only one place where all the action takes place therefore there is nothing that distracts the attention of the audience. The set is "substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy or homelike," which is another theme running though the play - things may not be as they appear. The family is not really what they portray; they think they are honourable and devoted but in reality they are hiding the fact that they are distant and indecent. For example, the lighting for the dining room "should be pink and intimate until the Inspector arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder" representing the dramatic effect that the Inspector has on the family. They are celebrating the engagement of Gerald and Sheila and feeling "very pleased with life". Every character is feeling confident and vainglorious until the hard Inspector arrives and brings them back down to reality. "Two hours ago a young woman died..." The lighting direction symbolises the way the Inspector ruins their celebration and how the family does not welcome his news. There are other aspects in the play apart from time, place and action that assist the play in holding the audience's attention and fulfilling the requirements of a well-made play. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is Sheila who finally relinquishes and shows remorse for her actions. After the night's revelations she says, "I remember what he said...it frightens me the way you talk." Priestley is indirectly suggesting here that if Sheila can break the cycle of repeating events because she has learnt her lesson, then there is also hope for society. Overall, 'An Inspector Calls' follows the guidelines for a well-made play and when it doesn't, it still entertains the audience. The play is a morality play with one main message, that the so-called respectable side of humanity is not all what they would have you believe. The Inspector is the voice of Preistley trying to reveal the truth about the upper classes and when the Inspector makes his final speech, it is Preistley speaking to the audience: "One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us". He wants people to leave the theatre with a new mentality of how respectable citizens live and think twice before ever looking down on somebody because of their social status. I think that the play is very well-made and I agree with the moral that Preistley wants people to learn. To protest against class prejudice through drama is very difficult and this is why Preistley has had to bend the rules slightly. It was more important to him to communicate his message to the audience than to make the play realistic. Inspector Goole has a lesson for all of us: "We are all responsible for each other". ...read more.

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