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How Priestly conveys his socialist beliefs in An Inspector Calls

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'An Inspector Calls' Essay I have just finished reading the play 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B Priestly, and in this essay I will attempt to explain how he uses this play to convey his deep-rooted socialist beliefs. However, I will first look at how he acquired these beliefs. John Priestly was born on 13th of September 1894. He grew up in a family and a wider group of friends who were very keen on enjoying the arts. As he grew up he began to have in-depth debates with these friends. They discussed mainly politics, always from a very socialist point of view. It was for this reason that J.B Priestly adopted such a socialist viewpoint. He expresses this set of beliefs in his play 'A Inspector Calls' which tries to show the follies of capitalism and the ways in which socialism can help to resolve deadlocks created by it. It is the techniques and devices he uses to accomplish this result which I am going to look at during the course of this essay. I will look at five aspects of the play to see how they were used and exploited to get Priestly's socialist message across. They are, the social and political climate of the day, his use of the character of the Inspector, the reactions of one younger and one older character to the Inspector, the use of dramatic devices throughout the play and the ending of the play. Firstly I am going to look at the social and political climate of the day. It is important when we look at this aspect of how Priestly gets his socialist message across to remember that when he wrote the play, Priestly took into account the social and political climate of not just 1944 (when he wrote the play) ...read more.


Yet despite this incredibly delicate position he holds within the play he remains completely calm and relaxed throughout, except leading up to his exit when the Birlings try to use their social class to prevent him from investigating further into the case; this evidently annoys him. This coolness is no accident. Even his name G-O-O-L-E gives him an air of mystery and suspense which proves to be very valid later in the play, when we discover that he is not who he claims to be at all. Priestly sets up the character of the Inspector as one which will be respected by both the other characters and the audience. This respect ensures that he is listened to and therefore gets Priestly's socialist message across more effectively. However, Priestly tries not to depend too heavily on the character to get his socialist message across as at the end of the play we discover that he is not a real Police Inspector at all and he that he is in fact a paradox. Throughout the story the character of the Inspector tells us that it is wrong to live a lie, yet in the end he is nothing but one big lie himself. This says a very important thing about Priestly's socialist message. It is not who delivers the message that is important but the message itself. I will now study the reactions of two characters in the play, one younger and one older, to the arrival of and the news brought by the Inspector. Firstly I will look at the reaction of Sheila Birling to the Inspector's arrival and the news of Eva Smith's death. ...read more.


Gerald then has the idea of ringing the hospital to see if a girl has committed suicide, only to be told that, "They haven't had a suicide for months." This seems to lift the tension from Birling, who says to Sheila, "The whole things different now. Come, come, you can see that, can't you?" but she realises that everything is not different and that they have still done terrible things, "It frightens me the way you talk...you're pretending everything's just as it was before." It is then that the Birlings receive a nasty shock. A phone call from the police saying that a girl has just died, after swallowing disinfectant and that they are sending an Inspector over to the house. In short, with the possible exception of Sheila, the capitalists have refused to learn the lesson which the character of the Inspector has tried so hard to teach them. Because of this, they must start to learn all over again. After studying the play in this essay, I believe that it conveys Priestly's socialist message by simply saying that the capitalists will have to be taught their lesson again and again until they finally learn it. That capitalism cannot work if any form of peace is on the cards, because so long as man is looking out for himself and has no interests in making the world a community instead of just a pile of money waiting to be divided up, we will never truly be able to be happy. This is portrayed at the end of the play by the evident relief of the characters when they discover that the whole thing has been a wind-up. However, I wonder whether it was just a test which they must continue to take over and over again until they finally get it right. Matt Pengelly 10H 1 ...read more.

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