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"We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other" - What are the main concerns of J.B Priestley and how does he use dramatic techniques to put forward his themes and ideas?

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Introduction

"We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." What are the main concerns of J.B Priestley and how does he use dramatic techniques to put forward his themes and ideas? GCSE ENGLISH COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT 'An Inspector calls', by J.B Priestley is a play that is aimed at both making us (the audience) more morally aware, and socially responsible for one another. The characters used in the play are employed as vehicles to explore or represent ideas that are both opposed and favoured by the author and audience in different ways. For example, Mr. Birling, a businessman with very capitalist views and opinions that is aspiring to get on the 'Honours list', is a character that is criticised in the play by Priestley, as he claims moral superiority as well as economic and social superiority. Inspector Goole, on the other hand is a character with very socialist opinions, who we soon find out to be a 'jingo' as Mr. Birling describes him. Inspector Goole represents the playwright's opinions of capitalists and other hypocritical classes, which are represented by Mr. Birling. This employment of characters to convey ideas and issues throughout the play is a typical dramatic device in itself, as this is how the author manages to put his point across to us (the audience). ...read more.

Middle

The opening stage directions give us (the audience) an immediate insight into the lives of the Birlings, due to the 'pink and intimate lighting', and the 'decanter of port', 'cigar box' and 'cigarettes' that are present in the 'substantial' and 'heavily comfortable' dining room of a 'fairly large suburban house'. These setting and lighting effects indicate that the Birlings are an aspiring family, due to the 'fairly large' house of a 'manufacturer', who would be unlikely to be aristocratic. Also, the 'pink and intimate' lighting refers to the phrase 'rose-coloured spectacles', meaning that that family / group of people has a very narrow-outlook on life, and only sees the positive sides of life, and ignores the downsides. These techniques lead directly into the play, and prove that family has a very narrow-outlook on life, and ignore the downsides of life. For example, Arthur Birling lectures the 'three young people' as he refers to them, about how the 'world is developing too quickly' to 'have time for war'. He thinks that in 1940, the world will be rid of 'the Capital versus Labour agitations' and 'silly little war scares', of course the audience knows that Birling is completely wrong, because the play was written in hindsight. Also, techniques such as the setting, which indicate that the Birlings are an aspiring family are proven to be correct later on, when Arthur reveals to Gerald that he 'will soon be on the Honours list', which may not be true. ...read more.

Conclusion

and Mrs. Birling refuse to do. This is an obvious use of the dramatic technique to use characters as 'vehicles' to express a certain outlook or opinion in the play, in the case of Mr. Birling in particular. It becomes apparent in the play that the Inspector is not concerned with punishment in the usual sense, as there is not specific penalty for the Birlings' actions, but the worst thing that hangs over them is the 'exposure' and 'scandal', which could result in an inquest in which their names were brought up. This is a considerable punishment for Mr. and Mrs. Birling, as their 'family name and reputation' could be destroyed with ease. This is how the Inspector changes the idea of 'criminal behaviour' so that what seem fairly common examples of spite and selfishness become 'offences' - for which people can be questioned and brought to account. Clearly, Priestley effectively uses many different dramatic techniques and devices throughout the play, to put forward his themes and ideas to the audience. Priestley does this in such a way that the audience also learn to become more considerate, morally aware, and more socially responsible for one another in society. Therefore, it is clear that when Inspector Goole is inspecting the Birlings' consciences, the author is also simultaneously inspecting the consciences of the audience members. This is a very effective method of putting forward his main concern, that "We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." ...read more.

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