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What Do You Consider to Be the Function of “An Inspector Calls”?

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What Do You Consider to Be the Function of "An Inspector Calls"? (J.B. Priestley) This play has many functions. One is simply to entertain or amuse. The story line is an interesting one which keeps the audience absorbed into the play. However behind this simple front, there are devices and techniques Priestley has used to try and manipulate the audience into his way of thinking. Similarly we are introduced to an apparently respectable, middle-class family; but we are shown through the inspector the ugly, and possibly more truthful side of them. The function of this play works on two levels, to entertain and to educate (or even warn). It combines theatrical excitement with social criticism, it prompts the audience to look at themselves or at least their society from a safe, untainted perspective. Instead of actually being in a dinner party and putting on these false pretences themselves, they can watch another family do it and draw their own conclusions. It is this new way of looking at things, which raises questions within the audience, but leaves them to answer them. I think the fact there is an older woman, and younger woman. Plus an older man, and a younger man shows that Priestley is aware that similar aged audience members can relate much more effectively to the characters. So younger and older aged characters of both sexes must be included in the cast. ...read more.


It's fair to say that Priestly really has exaggerated the pomposity or Mr. Birling to ensure that he is hated by the audience. The original time this play was shown was the 50's for the war was still fresh in people's minds. The bitter irony of Birlings's stupidity serves only to generate more hatred toward Mr Birling's arrogance. It's this blind arrogance that Priestley wants to be apparent to the audience, so that they themselves can question if they are too showing signs of Birling's "hard-headed" arrogance. With all these factors taken into account I would want a rather large, pompous looking and slightly dim man to play Mr Birling. Someone with a hearty, rude bellowing laugh and a complete lack of respect for anyone he considers to be lower class. Mrs Birling is emotionally devoid. She represents the true middle class. In society she would be well respected for her work with the charity organisation but we see later on in the book she turns away a pregnant women in disgust for using the Birling name. "She seemed to me to be not a good case - so I used my influence to have it refused." Mrs Birling's function is, like Mr Birling's to shock the audience. The women of the audience will see Mrs Birling and start to question whether they are putting on an emotionless mask just to fit into the stereotypical box of what a "respectable women of the time" should be like. ...read more.


The audience is let in on a love affair, which they themselves are guilty for ruining. Gerald's story asks the whole audience why it isn't right that two human beings can love each other just because they are separated by snobbish divides. However, if Gerald were true to his love and care for Daisy he would've stayed with her. He clearly values his own reputation more than Daisy. Gerald must be portrayed as an intelligent honest man. He should be quick-witted but also sensitively played. I have gone through the function of each character, thus giving the function of the play. Overall, the play acts as a warning to people. It uses the shock of Eva Smith's death presented by the inspector, "She'd been taken there this afternoon because she swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out, of course." Combined with irony from both the adult Birling's. Mrs. Birling condemns the man behind Eva Smith's child, only to find it's her own son. "He ought to be dealt with very severely" Mr Birling also spouts more of his categorically wrong predictions to an audience who has just been through a horrendous world war, "They'll be peace and prosperity and rapid progress everywhere". Priestley uses the shock, irony and entertainment of the general plot, to keep the audience interested while conveying a strong message. I think J.B Priestley teaches the world a lesson, which is still very relevant today. [Barney Harris] ...read more.

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