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J.B. Priestley wrote "An Inspector Calls" in 1945 just after the Second World War

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Introduction

Essay on Inspector Calls. J.B. Priestley wrote "An Inspector Calls" in 1945 just after the Second World War in which he fought in. It was a time when there was immense social change in Britain. People had pulled together in war and there was optimium that this would continue with a socialist government in power. However, there was also anxiety that society wouldn't be able to restructure itself and Priestley through his play conveys this anxiety felt by him and others. It opens in 1912 with Arthur Birling a prosperous man holding a family dinner to celebrate his daughter's engagement. This cosy scene which the majority of his audience could identify with is interrupted by the arrival of a police inspector trying to find out who is responsible for the suicide of a young working class women and the reactions of all the family when they discover each played part in her death. The Inspector is very cleverly used as an embodiment of collective conscience and the social and moral responsibilities that people have to one another and those less fortunate. I think he achieves this brilliantly when his last dramatic words are "we are members of one body". It shows itself to be a morality play and the livies, hopes, suffering and happiness of people like Eva Smith are all intertwined with ours. ...read more.

Middle

Only Eric and Sheila seem to have any sense of collective responsibility to Eva's death. As mentioned above the striking timing of the Inspectors entrance is the first indication that he might be there to change attitudes. The character of Inspector Goole is the catalyst for the evening's events he is described to be in his 50's dressed in a suit and giving an impression of massiveness solidity and purposefulness Inspector Goole is a play on the name could be spelt Ghoul meaning supernatural or Ghost. He represents the moral conscience of the world just before the 2nd world war. After revealing Arthur Birlings part in Eva's death as mentioned above he talks about collective responsibility and being part of "a chain of events". If any of the characters are complained he in a sober voice mentions the infirmary and what was left of Eva Smith. His entrances and exits add drama and tension to the play and each act is left at a cliff hanger. He deliberately reveals each character one at time driving them to confess to make them see their collective responsibility in her final act of suicide. He is a moral symbol of good and justice revealing pride sloth lust etc many of the 7 deadly sins which each of the Birling are guilty of. ...read more.

Conclusion

By showing that the younger generation in the play learn from their mistakes he hopes all of us will take some responsibility and change society for the better, how the situation can be changed and who to depend on to change it. Throughout the idea of collective responsibility both morally and socially is promoted through the Inspector acting as our conscience and the questioning of each character individually adds to the drama suspence and tension. I feel it was a good play with twists and the double standards that people have with Eva's crime being on the wrong end of the social ladder able to be miscued by people in power. It teaches us about collective responsibility well. Hearing the characters telling their own stories and their and their reactions to the consequence of both their own and other people's actions has devastation cumulative dramatic effect which I feel is still relevant to our society today as there are still great divisions in our social classes and how power and wealth is divided around the world e.g. low working class, unemployed to the multi millionaire the rich west compared to the Third World and the unfairness of say cocoa farmers to the price of chocolate. Society could still learn from the messages in An Inspector Calls. ...read more.

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