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What are the messages of 'An Inspector Calls'? And how does Priestly convey them?

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What are the messages of 'An Inspector Calls'? And how does Priestly convey them? 'An Inspector Calls' is a classic play written by J B Priestly shortly before World War II ended. The play however, is set in 1912, which is shortly before the First World War. The play is set in an industrial city in the Midlands of 1912 concerns a wealthy industrialist Arthur Birling, the fianc� Gerald Croft, The Birling family and an Inspector. It shows how the family each help to destroy a young woman's life - Eva Smith through their selfish and callous attitudes, which results in her death. The play takes place in the Birling's dining room where the family are celebrating the engagement of Sheila to Mr Gerald Croft. The dining room is the setting in which the whole play takes place in. As the play takes place in one place only the effects can be later seen within the play and dramatised versions as it creates a sense of Claustrophobia amongst audiences as the play becomes more intense later on when the inspector arrives. Arthur Birling believed he was a fair employer paying only what he had to and no more. If asked for a raise he would say it was his duty to keep costs low and prices high. Eva Smith, an employee was sacked with other colleagues seen as a ringleader for going on strike. ...read more.


After the confession her language and presentation becomes much more confident, "(Stormily) Oh shut up Eric". In the inspectors interrogation of Gerald she becomes more confident, pompous, and head strong as she is intrigued and wants to know what is going to be said. By using question marks and rhetorical questions her confidence is bolstered and the pace of the conversation is increased, "Was it after she left Milwards? When she changed her name...and began to lead a different sort of life?" She bombards Gerald with a barrage of questions that she knows will not be answered but feels the need to ask anyway. "(urgently, cutting in) Mother, don't - please don't. For your own sake, as well as ours, you mustn't..." Later on in the play Sheila becomes more erratic in her behaviour (urgently, cutting in") and this can be seen by the use of punctuation and end-stops as seen above. This eccentric behaviour is influenced by the inspector whom Sheila is now fully aware of and knowledgeable of his motives and methods of getting to the truth. "You mustn't try to build up a wall between us and that girl. If you do, then the inspector will just break it down. And it'll be all the worse when he does". Sheila is very important to the play and is a crucial character, her attitudes towards the events that take place that night are in stark contrast to that of her kin. ...read more.


This works to great effect in some aspects of the play such as the presentation of the Birlings house on stilts and the dining room open for all to see. 'Brecht' a German dramatist believed that you should heavily dramatise a play and this is shown through "verserendung". One example of this can be seen in the character portrayal of Sheila, in her confession she directs her speech and emotions towards the audience instead of the characters in the play. This can also be known as the "4th Wall", by breaking down the fourth wall the audience is directly involved. Through the Inspector acting as our conscience we are made aware that there are those in elite positions in society who have power and abuse it. They take advantage of those weaker than themselves. Eva Smith was a working class girl trying to make a living. Through those in power she was used more as an object than a human being.. Preistly wanted to show that this will continue to happen if we do not learn from our mistakes. Between the time span 1912-1945 we have seen what happens to an uncaring society. The country experienced World Wars, unrest, revolts, fascism and the Holocaust. By 1945, when Preistly wrote this play it was possible to look back with hindsight and see the errors and faults in our society. This emphasises how important it is that we care for each other and help those weaker than ourselves rather than just think of ourselves just as the Inspector tried to say. ...read more.

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