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In 'An Inspector calls', how does Priestly convey the social message pf the play effectively while providing the audience with an enjoyable theatrical experience.

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In 'An Inspector calls', how does Priestly convey the social message pf the play effectively while providing the audience with an enjoyable theatrical experience. When the Inspector refuses Birling's offer of a drink with the words, "No thank you, Mr Birling I'm on duty", the audience are led to expect a traditional crime thriller. However, Priestly uses this framework to explore deeper issues. The play opens with a very comfortable, well off family in a pleasant setting, giving the audience a sense of warmth and security. Everyone seems to be content and satisfied, but there are signs that the audience can perceive which aren't so content. Priestly begins to provide the audience with an enjoyable theatrical experience when Mr Birling states in his speech "Nobody wants war, except some half-civilized folks in the Balkans.... The Titanic- she sails next week-forty six thousand eight hundred tons-New York in five days-and every luxury-and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." Here, Mr Birling's pomposity makes him verge on the ridiculous. This speech gives the audience early clues to disaster in their household as we know that there will be a war in a couple of years time and the Titanic will sink in a matter of weeks. ...read more.


As Mr Birling realises he isn't to blame his behaviour alters and becomes more civil towards the Inspector, showing that he really does only care for himself. He had said " a man has to make his own way- has to look after himself- and his family too, of course." Little does he know that his words will soon come back to haunt him, and his hypocrisy will be made clear. Shelia is then questioned about her part in Eva's death and at once accepts that she was to blame. Unlike Mr Birling, the audience warm to her as she is honest. As the Inspector mentions another name that the dead girl used, Daisy Renton, tension on the stage increases as Gerald reacts very suspiciously to it. This gives the audience a clear sign that Gerald also knew the girl (and could be an answer to why he was away last summer.) It also shows the audience who is next to be questioned, keeping the tension for the audience. When the audience find out that Gerald was having an affair with Daisy Renton during the summer, it gives the audience the idea that unanswered questions from the beginning of the play will be answered, as the audience now know where Gerald was the summer before. ...read more.


Priestley's intention, however, was for him to bring a social message across to the audience. He brings across the social message by showing how he drives public people to confession with the dark secrets they conceal. Mrs Birling believes that the working class are a different species altogether and social status is everything. Gerald, Shelia, Eric and Arthur all used their positions to defeat Eva/Daisy in some way, which shows it was their class in society that also led to her death. The Inspector tells the Birlings that "We are members of one body" and so teaches the audience how it is important to look after others otherwise the outcomes may not be good. The Inspector showed that selfishness, greed, envy and pride all lead to a poor girl's death. The message is clear to the audience as after the Inspector leaves, the children change but the parents don't, showing that people like Mr and Mrs Birling may never accept responsibility for their actions. However, the Inspector cryptically states, "We often do on the young ones. They're more impressionable." When speaking of the influences that can affect the younger members of the family. Priestley intends his play to make an impression on his audience. Lisa-Marie Bantleman ...read more.

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