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In this assignment I'll discuss the social and the historical context of the J. B. Priestley play 'an inspector calls'.

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Introduction

Michael Lee An inspector calls In this assignment I'll discuss the social and the historical context of the J. B. Priestley play 'an inspector calls'. I will be concentrating on Act one of the play and looking at the stage craft techniques used by Priestley to show character, setting and atmosphere. I will now go on to tell the story briefly. In 'is an inspector piles' the Birling family is celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to local merchant's son Gerald Croft. The evening's activities soon turn sour when an inspector calls; he is investigating the suicide of a young girl. It turns out that each member of the Birling family had connections with the girl, Eva, which drove her to suicide. I will now go on to discuss the characters concerned mainly with Act One, Sheila Birling, Arthur Birling and Inspector Goole. Mr Birling is a 'self-made' prosperous factory owner. He is middle-class and this is evident in the way he speaks, not only in his vocabulary and grammar but in the way he speaks others. Birling often thinks he is of a higher class than other people such as Inspector Goole, 'I thought I'd never seen you before' this could show that Birling wants to be upper class. Birling is very heartless person he doesn't understand the needs of working-class people such as Eva Smith. ...read more.

Middle

Sheila is very mature, especially when it come to her engagement, she breaks it off calmly and doesn't rush into accepting her ring back once the Inspector has departed. She is shocked, amazed and upset that her parents haven't learnt anything from the Inspectors visit, she thinks that just because the Inspector was a confidence game, this doesn't mean that he wasn't to have been taken seriously. This is another sign of Sheila's maturity. Inspector Goole is a false inspector who for some strange reason knows what will happen in the future. He goes into the Birling household and questions each family member concerning the suicide of a young girl, Eva Smith. Each member of the household is individually responsible for the death of Eva and the inspector explains to each person why they are at fault. Inspector Goole is the main character of the play and is a mystery to the audience and the characters. Priestley depends a lot on lighting to set the mood for the inspector, he describes that 'the light should be pink and intimate until the inspector arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder.' This shows that the character of the inspector is a character, which is supposed to feel big, although a four-foot tall person could play him and he would still feel big. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this time the whole nation was divided into distinctive social classes, those born into money were upper class. Those who have made their own money and worked for a living were middle class and the majority were those like Eva, uneducated and unqualified working class people. These people around this time decided to create unions which would protect a member if thrown out of work, unfortunately they had very little power so people like Eva were treated very badly. If someone was sacked from a job they would be 'blacklisted' which meant they wouldn't get a job again in that trade. This happened to Eva when she was fired from Birling's factory. So in summing up this essay I would like to comment on the characters I have studied. I have found that Birling is an ignorant man who doesn't mean harm, Sheila Birling is a kind, gentle woman and about the inspector I have found not much. But what I have found out about is the terrible conditions of Edwardian Britain and the things that working class people had to live with. I think that J. B. Priestly portrays the ignorance of merchants of the day very well, he shows us that people matter even if you do not know them and that everyone could be connected with something terrible, indirectly. ...read more.

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