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Is 'An Inspector Calls' Primarily A Detective Story or A Social Critique-Speak from the Point of View of Audiences in 1946 and Today's Audience?

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IS 'AN INSPECTOR CALLS' PRIMARILY A DETECTIVE STORY OR A SOCIAL CRITIQUE- SPEAK FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF AUDIENCES IN 1946 AND TODAY'S AUDIENCE? An Inspector Calls includes aspects of a detective story and a social critique. I believe when J. B. Priestly set out to write this play, he wanted it as a didactic (educating) play and a social critique that implied "we are responsible for each other" and we should all learn form our mistakes. However he knew that the 1946 audience would not want to watch a play telling them about social issues as it would not be of interest and for this reason, I believe he chose to embed a social critique within the very popular detective story to give it a twist and make the play more entertaining for the audiences. The play begins as a social critique. An Inspector Calls was first performed in 1946 and the play was set in 1912. This means that when the play was first performed, although Mr. Birling considers himself as "hard-headed", looking at the facts and speaking the truth, in reality today's audience recognise Mr. Birling as quite na�ve, when making comments like "the Titanic...absolutely unsinkable". This would be found ironic by today's audiences as well as the 1946 audience, as they would have experienced the sinking of the titanic later in 1912. Some of the 1946 audience may have been offended by this quote as they had lost people in the sinking of the "unsinkable" and people in today's audiences would find it ironic to see someone of his class, speaking as if he knows everything but misquoting occurrences several times in his speech. ...read more.


with Eva, he's only getting a few extra details, but already knows the basic involvement; the detective makes a lot of social comments and he is very philosophical. But the main reason the play is not a detective play is the inspector is not real, and acts like a spirit (especially with the name Inspector Goole (ghost)) to warn them and make them learn form their mistakes, and give them a chance. Also, as the detective is like a spirit, he doesn't behave like the average detective and has little respect for the Birling family making rude comments like "don't stammer and yammer at me again, man. I'm losing all patience with you people". They find him "a trifle impertinent" because of their class and Mr. Birling "was Lord mayor only two years [before]" and "he is still a magistrate". Class is a theme that runs along the play that Priestly is trying to imply, doesn't matter and you should look after you neighbour. This would have an impact on the 1946 audiences, as the class system was still a very big thing in 1946. They would see that this girl had died and still this family won't accept responsibility merely due to their class and complacency. They could understand the disadvantages of a class system and that they should treat everyone as equals. However, today it wouldn't have the same significance, as there isn't a class system. Nevertheless, today's audience like the 1946 audience could still learn to treat everyone the same in that not to be prejudiced or discriminate against any other type of person or even be stereotypical. ...read more.


There was no Inspector Goole in the force. Mr. and Mrs. Birling begin to celebrate now they know he is a "fake". In reply to their celebrations, Sheila bitterly says "I suppose were all nice people now" having learnt from the experience. Gerald isn't sure what to think of the situation, although he still remembers how the inspector made him feel. Therefore due to Mr. and Mrs. Birling's complacency, they receive a call from the police saying "A girl has just died on her way to the infirmary after swallowing some disinfectant. A police Inspector is on his way [there] to ask some questions". You can see from this that the inspector was there to give them a chance to learn from their mistakes. To make them take on responsibility and appreciate their wealth rather than use it against people. However as Mr. and Mrs. Birling were irresponsible after he left and didn't learn from their mistakes, a real inspector is about to come back to ask questions, and Eva Smith is really dead. From this, both today's audience and audiences from 1946 would simply learn to take any chances they get to put things right, and learn from any mistakes made or else things will go wrong. In conclusion, I believe both audiences will see all the morals and themes from this play. This play encourages people to take on responsibilities and shows "we are responsible for each other". It shows wealth and class causes destruction unless used correctly and with appreciation and finally it shows we should all learn from our mistakes. Farah Hawa 10W Page 1 18/11/02 ...read more.

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