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In An Inspector Calls, how does Priestley convey the social message of the play effectively while providing the audience with an enjoyable theatrical experience?

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In An Inspector Calls, how does Priestley convey the social message of the play effectively while providing the audience with an enjoyable theatrical experience? John Boyton Priestley was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on 13th September 1894. "An Inspector calls" was heavily influenced by J.B. Priestleys own opinions and experiences. J.B. Priestley had experienced active front line service and had also narrowly escaped being killed on more than one occasion. The play opens, the Birlings, the focus and core of the whole play are situated in a fairly large suburban house, this already suggests to us that they are a comfortable prosperous family. The Birlings are celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald. Mr. Birlings character is the first to convey, he comes across as a man eager to please, he buys the same port as Gerald's father does, keen to impress him. Also we notice Mr. Birling praises the cooks meal, this is unheard of in an upper class household. "Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things". This shows Mrs. Birling has more awareness of status especially her own. The soon to be wed couple, Sheila and Gerald engage in teasing light banter, however the audience sense tension, Gerald was apart from Sheila for a large part of last summer. "And I've told you, - I was awfully busy at the works all the time". This makes the audience think, was Gerald really at the works? ...read more.


However the inspector is not impressed by the list of names, he is quick to give a blunt and frank description of Eva Smith's situation. The inspector only shows the picture of Eva to Mr Birling, the others are annoyed however the inspector is not concerned or intimidated he is not there to make friends he is there to get his job done. The inspector hints that Gerald may also be involved, this creates suspense. The inspector questions Mr Birling about why he sacked Eva, Mr Birling still thinks he is not responsible for Eva's death. The audience will instantly think of him in a bad way, because he is not ashamed of his actions and their consequences. The Inspector interrogates the whole family together but one by one to create tension, the audience see their different reactions and instantly warm to some of the characters, at this point Eric and Gerald are showing sympathy towards Eva Smith. Mr Birling is still trying to intimidate the inspector, however he comes off more intimidated. As Sheila enters she is instantly sympathetic towards Eva, however she does not know many of the events that have occurred. Mr Birling's attitude is quick to alter when he believes that he is no longer to blame for Eva's death, this totally contradicts what he was saying ealier about looking after you own family, he proves to be very hypocritical. ...read more.


"I accept no blame for it at all" a very similar reaction to the one of Mr Birling, Sheila is the only one who has learnt from her mistakes and is willing to accept responsibility. As we enter the last act, the inspector appears to be rushing, doesn't have the time "when I've gone". Eric's part in the death of Eva/Daisy comes out, the inspector is not surprised, he appears to have already known. The Inspector is Priestleys voice and the Birlings conscience. The speech is all about community, and also memories of war. J.B Priestley is trying to get across a message, that we should learn from the past, change our ways if they are wrong. However once The Inspector has left we see that the only ones that have learnt are Sheila and Eric, Mr and Mrs Birling find out that no girl has died in the infirmary, which they think means they are in the clear, no public scandal will arise. Sheila and Eric admit they were wrong. J.B. Priestley uses a detective story to keep the audience gripped and entertained, however there is also a strong undercurrent seen through out it. The play is supposed to teach people a lesson, a moral lesson. To show that a community should stick together, no matter what their class or status. The message is one from Priestleys own experiences, which makes it even more prominent throughout the play. ...read more.

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