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What Dramatic Devices does J.B. Priestly
use in 'An Inspector Calls' to convey his 
attitude about society at that time?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945, although it was set in 1912. Priestley's view of society at that time was that there was a social injustice of the working class, and he used the play 'An Inspector Calls' to convey this. 'An Inspector Calls' is a play portraying progression from ignorance to knowledge, not only for the characters but also for the audience themselves. Using dramatic devices such as setting, lighting, props, dramatic irony, character action and dialogue, and indeed the main protagonist himself, J.B Priestly has put his views and opinions across to society in a way that enables effortless interpretation. Priestley did not like the capitalist society in which he lived, where the higher class of people had such a great influence over society that it was in their power to decide if someone could keep their job, or whether or not they deserved help from a charity. Exploring Priestley's intentions in getting society to change is the unexpected twist at the end of the play, surprising both characters and the audience alike. It is interesting to see how the younger generation learnt something from the experience, whilst the supposedly 'superior' generation did not. Enhancing Birling's ignorance and naivety is the dramatic irony used by Priestley. Priestley has used dramatic irony by setting the play earlier than when it was written, because the audience know that all of Birling's opinions will be contradicted in the future when he dismisses the talk of war and describes how the 'Titanic' is 'unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable'. This will make the audience realise how ignorant Birling is and therefore how ignorant the upper class are, as this is what Mr. ...read more.

Middle

The hard, bright light raises tension because it portrays how the Inspector enlightens the Birling family to their role in Eva Smith's death and how their secrets are about to be exposed. The Inspector is described as creating 'at once an impression of massiveness'. This suggests that in contrast with the Birlings he is very confident and does not need to put on any pretence. His attitude is intimidating because 'he speaks carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking.' The entrance of the Inspector will raise tension because the questions asked by him will make the audience question themselves. When the Inspector arrives the celebratory mood is shattered. He turns the 'nice little family celebration' into a 'nasty mess' by making the Birlings admit their mistakes to each other and indeed themselves. The Inspector appears to be omniscient and is the catalyst in allowing each character to reveal their responsibility towards Eva Smith's death. The Inspector has a unique way in extracting information from each member of the family, which is a dramatic device itself. The characters react to his forceful questioning by admitting, albeit unwillingly, to everything they have done to contribute to Eva Smith's death. Sheila's comment to Gerald saying that the Inspector 'somehow makes you' admit your crimes insinuates that the Inspector is an almost ghostly character, and has the power to make people admit things that they do not want to. Reinforcing the idea that the Inspector is a ghostly character is the fact that the Birlings 'hardly ever told him anything he didn't know'. ...read more.

Conclusion

J.B Priestley throws in two twists at the end of the play. Firstly, two interpretations of who the Inspector really was are given. The initial interpretation is that he is a trickster determined to make fools of the Birling family, and the second is that he is some sort of avenging spirit, come to make them see the evil of their ways. It is interesting to see how the older members of the family take the first, whilst their children take the latter. Priestley does this to illustrate how the younger generation are the key to the future, if any changes are to be made. The second twist is the time-release mechanism when the telephone call interrupts and takes them back to relive events. Here Priestley has used Ouspensky's theory of the fifth dimension, which is the fourth dimension, time, in infinite repetition. Priestley has used this cyclical structure to show that if they fail to learn from their experiences the Inspector will keep returning until they do, and his threat of 'fire and blood and anguish' will become their reality. J.B Priestley's techniques were successful in conveying his attitude to society at that time, because every single member of the audience will learn something from the play. This means that Priestley's purpose for 'An Inspector Calls' was achieved, because he wanted to educate society of the unfair social standings and how something must be done to alter them. Cleverly entwining various dramatic devices with character dialogue, J.B Priestley has ensured that 'An Inspector Calls' is a play that can be used to change society. abby brakewell 10B ...read more.

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