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'The Inspector represents the conscience…..' - An Inspecter Calls.

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'The Inspector represents the conscience.....' "An Inspector Calls" by J B Priestley was written post-world war II and is set in the early 1900's; this is a time of great innovation and great threat. With "Titanic" about to make its maiden voyage and trouble in the Balkans about to spill out into the rest of continental Europe. The Britain of the time is one of post-industrial revolution. The top 3 % of the country, "the upper class", possess 98% of the wealth; 'Classism' is at the forefront of society and Socialism a distant dream shared by the few. Priestley, the playwright, is one of this minority and it is shown through in his work. No more so than when he uses the Inspector to symbolise his feelings towards society. "We don't live alone...members of one body...responsible for each other" This is one of the major principles of socialism. Everyone is equal. You can see that the Inspector is a passionate socialist by the way the Inspector line of enquiry alters, it turns to a more personal line- as though he believes entirely in what he is saying. ...read more.


This must be clearly portrayed by the actor playing the inspector, as a main part of the play is the emotions the characters provoke within the audience. During the play when Mr Birling discovers a problem his first thought towards solving it is to reach for his chequebook, proving the theory the Inspector holds towards the upper class, right. "I've got to cover this up.' Priestley is trying to stimulate the audience into taking a long, hard, critical look at themselves, money and power are supposed to be a privilege- not a weapon. However, at the same time Priestley is entertaining the audience, he is using socialist propaganda - only showing half the story. Even in the stage directions at the onset of the play, the immense presence of the Inspector is meant to be immediately enforced in the audience's mind. 'Pink until the inspector arrives ...brighter and harder.' The pink atmosphere also helps to highlight the rose tinted view of optimism shared by the Birling Family at the start of the play. ...read more.


The rest of the family dismiss the Inspector and the message he brings almost immediately. "It was a hoax... " Priestley wants the Inspector to paralyse the audience. At the time the book was written, World War II had scarred society and left a deep wound in European mind. The atrocity of the First World War had been relived again; classes were being ripped apart; socialism was trying to break its shackles and reshape society. Even so, Priestley's work would have been revolutionary. The issues the play bring to light were controversial issues, and widely avoided. This play had 'entered the arena' at the very essence of the controversy. The Inspector is Priestley's method of exposing the corruption and self centred beliefs that lie at the kernel of the ruling class. The Inspector is a representation of something tangible and something possible supernatural. The metaphysical aspect of the Inspector is ever evident, no more so when he prophesises World War I, which was to happen shortly after this event. "Fire, blood and anguish." These words portray the picture of devastation left by war. This heightens the enigma surrounding the inspector. ...read more.

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