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JB Priestley: An Inspector Calls

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Introduction

How does J.B Priestley use dramatic devices and character to explore the themes of social responsibility and class in Act One of 'An Inspector Calls'? John Boynton Priestley, a famous writer, was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, on the 13th of September 1894. When he was 16, Priestley decided to leave school altogether, believing that 'the World outside classrooms and labs' would improve his ability to write, and help him to 'become a writer'. J.B Priestley's beliefs were that people should be treated similarly, and not different for any reason. He believed in 'social responsibility' and cooperation between people of different classes. 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945, the year that saw the end of the Second World War. Priestley thought that this was the perfect time to introduce this novel, since society was in need of reorganizing and recovering from the recent war. Everything needed to be worked into a fresh start. The reason Priestley uses dramatic devices so early in the play is to keep the audience hooked and interested. If the audience is bored at the start of a play, they will begin to lose interest. Dramatic devices work the same way that water does with plants; it absorbs the audience and makes them eager for more. ...read more.

Middle

Birling defends himself but Eric shows more sympathy towards Eva. For example, Birling indicates to the inspector that he told the people he fired that "England is a free country", but Eric argues that "It isn't if you can't go and work somewhere else". It is easy to compare the way Eric and Birling feel about other people in this dialogue. They seem to speak from two different sides of a battle; Birling claims he hasn't done anything wrong, but Eric will not believe his father. Sheila also shows sympathy towards Eva. She makes a relatively long speech explaining her feeling about the girl's agony. She states that she 'couldn't help thinking about this girl - destroying herself so horribly'. This emphasises the detail of Eva's painful death, and makes us think harder about how horrible hr death really was. The inspector, instead of trying to make her feel better, adds t her misery by mentioning the poor quality of life Eva was leading before she passed away. He claims she had to put up with 'Two months, with no work, no money coming in, and living in lodgings', and that she had 'no relatives to help her, few friends' and she was also apparently 'lonely' and 'feeling desperate'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another dramatic device Priestley uses is when he starts to imply Mr. Birling isn't the only one guilty of Eva's suicide. He says to Sheila that when Eva was 'working at Milwards', a clothes shop, a customer 'complained about her', so she had to leave. Sheila asks when this happened, and the inspector shows her a photograph nobody else gets to see. Sheila's reaction to the photograph the minute she sees it makes it obvious she is the 'customer' that complained. Therefore, she may also be guilty of Eva's suicide. The audience will want to verify this. The photograph is also effective because the audience do not get to see it either. This is another dramatic device. Priestley includes these dramatic devices to keep the audience interested. They are successful, because they made me want to know what happens next and whether the Birlings will find a way out of these accusations. I conclude that 'An Inspector Calls' is an excellently-written play, and was introduced to the world at an effective time. Although the play isn't very fun to read, it captures the audience's imagination and keeps them hooked on the storyline. The play's purpose has touched many, and Priestley tries to make us understand that if we all work together, the world will be a better place. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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