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In 'An Inspector Calls', the author, J.B. Priestley chose to set the play in 1912 for the main purpose of highlighting his main message.

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Introduction

The significant era of the 1940's had expressed the most rapid innovations within social attitudes since the beginning of the 'Industrial Revolution'. This was primarily due to the advocating of the first ever-socialist government. The initial idea gained formidable support by a great majority of the public who began to realise the terribly, corrupt social injustice around them, with the importance of society. These also included organisations such as the Fabian Society plus many other influential characters like J.B. Priestley who produced pieces of work i.e. An Inspector Calls. Continuous campaigning finally contributed towards success on the general election of 1945. It was obvious that the devastating events of the Second World War had shared some connections with these fresh, rational ideas about 'community'. In my views, it was the war in the 'Home Front' (back in England) that began to unite people from all classes, ranging from the rich upper class to the extremely poor working classes. Everyone was in the parallel situation of danger, so suddenly; money was no longer effective as power. In these circumstances, the only option was working together side-by-side concentrating on near equal terms (regardless of past social disparities) for the same purpose. To me, this had been the first sign of a co-operative society in Britain. Even though this was forced together, I think the most relevant factor was that it gave vital experiences for the upper classes, especially: combining with the lower classes during the worst of times to realise the overwhelming advantages working as a society. This was brought to real effect when success finally came in 1945 -the same year as the general election. In 'An Inspector Calls', the author, J.B. Priestley chose to set the play in 1912 for the main purpose of highlighting his main message. This was because the period of 1912 was directly during the 'Edwardian Era' (1910 -1914) ...read more.

Middle

suggests that men had the natural privilege of choice, and so power, over women. This is part of the convincing linguistic background presented by Priestly throughout the play. Seen from the audience, Mr Birling would seem arrogant and eccentric with an ironic representation when he is boasting about all his experiences in the world; denying the facts ahead of him: "The world's developing so fast that it'll make war impossible". This reference is instantly disapproved in the audience's mind (with the coming of the Great War in 1914) appearing almost as a joke. He also makes another ironic comment -referring to the Titanic as his example: "unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable" but off course we all know she does so (on her maiden voyage to New York) despite this convincing reiteration of his theory. I found this an impressive use of linguistic technique, by Priestley, as an effective device of mockery -giving the audience the desired sense of unease for the portentous character of Arthur Birling. Although both cases share similar initial reactions towards their connections with Eva's death; Birling: "I don't see where I come into this" and Sheila: "You talk as if we were responsible"(showing that she is spoilt -too pleased with life at first). The most important and critical factor between the two was the emphasis through their contrasting response after realising their involvement in Eva's suicide. Birling failed to make any progress in response to this, as if he wasn't at all responsible: "Still I can't accept any responsibility". In direct contradiction, after acknowledging her mistakes, Sheila insisted feeling remorse for the poor girl, as she had developed a conscious empathising concern, full of guilt and regret for her irresponsible actions. We can see the mental progress Sheila makes through a range of chained actions from 'nave innocents' to a 'mature understanding'. The process includes, firstly, innocent shock: "runs out", next, displaying remorse: "I felt rotten at the time but now I feel a lot worse", later exclaiming: "It was my own fault" -showing brave honesty, then: "if I could help her now, I would" -showing deep regret. ...read more.

Conclusion

Our society, is also one that is stable and controlled -bearing almost no problems in corruption or poverty compared to the 1940's, but with all this in mind, it is anything but perfect. Therefore, Priestley's influential play can be used, again, as a social tool with the relevant purpose of 'today' -to warn its citizens not to become (as Mr Birling was) too complacent about the achievements of society. To simply look ahead with conscious minds for constant improvement, as the current power of a society cannot determine its fate, with the message that terrible things happen to those who are contented; regardless of their power or wealth. Our latest, most striking experience of this in reality, are in the events of September 11th 2001 -the attacks on the U.S.A; an immensely portentous and dominating society (symbolic to the Birlings' class) is devastated by the poor, deprived nation of Afghanistan (symbolic to Eva's class). Resulting in a catastrophic disaster for the U.S.A, with a lesson along the lines of "fire and blood and anguish". Another classic example was the 'Kobe earthquake' (1995) -affecting the Japanese who was also taught in the similar way. Strangely, the two most powerful nations in our 'global body' have already suffered from the punishment of their own self-satisfaction -now, it almost seems as if Priestley had intended his play, also, to work for future. But finally, the most significant concern for us now is; will we fall into the same conceited traps as Japan and America -heading in the direction of Mr Birling? Or will we be able resist the temptation of joining the 'war on terrorism'. For me, the answer is all explained within the basic message that: "We are all members of one body". But I certainly hope that our leaders make the responsible choice, considering that, if not, then we are all too familiar with the horrific consequences... "In fire and blood and anguish"... WRITTEN BY: LEON CHEN ...read more.

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