• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984) wrote 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945 and it was first performed in 1946.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984) wrote 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945 and it was first performed in 1946. Priestley wrote this play to send a message to the people. During the Second World War, the people had united to fight one common enemy. This unity was what he wanted us to understand and believe in. He wanted to give everyone a choice. Should we go back to the way it was before the First World War, when everything was based on class and where an individual had to look solely after themselves, and no one else, or should we move forward, walk into a society where everyone looks out for each other, where we are all equal and we work together? He wanted people to choose. He demonstrates the difference with the older generation representing the society where you care for only yourself, and some of the younger generation represents a new society where we care for one another. Although the play was written after the Second World War, J.B. Priestley set it in 1912, even before the First World War. This was because he wanted the audience to have the benefit of hindsight, which is used to discredit Mr. Birling's pronouncements in the opening scene. When Mr. Birling, the head of the family and a respectable business man, talks of things that the audience knows is wrong, (such as his opinion of the "unsinkable" Titanic) we begin to doubt Mr. Birling's opinions, because we already know that the Titanic does, in fact, sink. In the time Priestley set his play, King Edward VII was on throne. During this time, women were still seen as lower class citizens, and were now fighting for the right to vote. This fight was called the suffrage movement. There were two main parties fighting for the vote: the NUWSS (National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies) who believed in petitions and very peaceful demonstrations and the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union) ...read more.

Middle

Sheila can also recall the way the inspector made her feel, 'fire and blood and anguish', is how she describes her encounter. Priestly uses her as a hope for the future. Sheila is young, and is quite 'impressionable', which allowed her to be able to apprehend the faults of the society, and therefore able to create a better future. She accuses her parents of being 'childish' after the inspector left, as they are refusing to take the blame. It's like a child's situation, where the child does not want to take the blame, so they refuse to acknowledge the circumstances. It's exactly what Mr and Mrs. Birling are doing. I think that Priestley felt quite positively about Miss Sheila Birling. He uses her to show us the change from one way to another. Sheila used to be selfish, and only think about herself, but since the inspector's questionings, she has found a new way of life, and her opinions have changed. I think Priestley created this character to make us relate to her. If we entered the play with views such as Mrs. Birling and Sheila before the transformation, we may too, change, like Sheila. Mrs. Birling is a stern woman who believes the traditional system of the women being the home maker and the men being the bread maker. She accepts the role of being the submissive, accepting wife. She believes in the concept that the woman should be left at home and not question their husbands. She tries to impress this on Sheila by saying, "When you're married you'll realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business". This gives us a negative impression of her values, which are traditional; she is set in her ways. Mrs. Birling is more upper-class than her husband, and always tries to teach him the way he should behave, 'Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things'. ...read more.

Conclusion

'I didn't understand' she says, in an attempt to relieve herself of the blame, but that is soon forgotten when she finds out that the inspector wasn't real. Like Priestley, I believe in a society where everyone should look out for each other, and as Mrs. Birling believes strongly in the other society, where you look out for only yourself then your family, my feelings towards Mrs. Birling are negative. Eva Smith is my second favourite. Although she was written beautifully into the play, I don't think that I personally can relate to her much. I understand all of her actions and beliefs, but I think that I can never be that good. She is an innocent moral who stood up for what she believed in. I feel a lot of sympathy to her and her unborn child. I feel that Sheila is my most favourite character as I can relate to her the most. She is the change in the society, and her response to the queries are perhaps the same as mine would have been. I know that I would have changed my ways after hearing and acknowledging Eva Smith and for this, I appreciate the fact that Sheila Birling was in the play to show us that change. J.B. Priestley's message (told to us via the Inspector) tells us that we should have collective responsibility, and share our duties equally between us all. Do we really want to live in a world where those of higher class choose our fate, or do we want to choose our own fate? His message is still relevant today, as I think we still live in a society where those of higher class are those with more power (although it is far less today than it was back then). But even if we did live in a society such as the one Priestly desires, we still need to learn his message, as we need to remember our responsibility for others and ourselves. An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley Lena Tran 10A Page 1 of 7 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    Sheila's actions weren't justified enough, because to get someone fired just because they look better in a hat than you do is a bit shameful. Sheila could f shown that she was sorry but she ran out the room crying.

  2. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector ...

    everything to come out and she now see her mother for who she really is. When the inspector told Mrs Birling what she did was completely wrong and what if it happen to her, Sheila was shocked but Mr Birling mind wasn't really on what Mrs Birling did but was

  1. Compare and contrast the characters of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith in J.B. Priestley's ...

    Eric also claims never to have loved Eva, but this time she did not love him either. This relationship was also prompted by physical attraction. Sheila greatly respects the Inspector and even when she realises he is fake she still heeds his message.

  2. 'An Inspector Calls' is based in 1912, before the first and second world war, ...

    I think JB Priestley was telling the audience through the character of Mrs Birling that everyone needs to open their eyes to our society. Not to look at the world and say it's fine when it quite obviously wasn't and isn't.

  1. 'An Inspector calls' is set in 1912 and was written for a 1946 audience. ...

    When the inspector asks Eric his questions, they are very short, simple and straight to the point. He does not bother to ask complicated questions, as it has been established that Eric is guilty, and all the inspector needs now, are the details, 'Where did you meet her?'

  2. JB Priestly wrote "An Inspector Calls" in 1945, during the ending of the Second ...

    In today's society men conduct themselves to be protective towards their loved ones in a defensive tactful, way so their closer ones wont be hurt. However the inspectors response to Gerald has been changed. JB Priestly shows the inspectors questioning techniques, turn each characters actions/statements upon themselves.

  1. Directors notes and stage instructions for An Inspector Calls

    himself trying to convey the message that our own actions may have an effect on those around us as well. My final point on the words of the Inspector, is his final speech, "But just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone... taught it in fire and blood and anguish.

  2. What message do you think that Priestley is trying to give in 'An Inspector ...

    just a reminder of what they ultimately got themselves into - it's like watching their own mistakes occur in retrospect. Birling becomes increasingly annoyed by the Inspector's questioning and by Eric's unsympathetic attitude towards his decision. "...I don't see that it's any concern of yours how I choose to run my business, is it now?"

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work