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What inspired Priestley? What made him write 'An Inspector Calls' and why set it before World War One?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"If men will not learn that lesson, they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." This is an extremely powerful quotation that the Inspector leaves us with. Without a doubt these words are very true. In 1914 World War One began and all this fire, blood and anguish became reality. Britain had entered a four-year war that would have an unimaginable effect on her people. Thousands of towns, cities, homes and businesses were destroyed. Millions of people, men the majority, died horrific deaths. Limbs blown off in explosions, bodies burnt alive in scorching heat, shells blasting, bombs lighting up the dark night, poison gas smothering trenches - trapping screaming victims below its green deadly surface. One can only imagine the pain, agony and shear devastation and lost of human life. The war ended in 1918 and much of Europe including England was left destroyed. For people like Mr. Birling it was time to rethink. Is it every man for himself? Is community nonsense? This could be one function of the Inspector; to get the Birlings, especially Mr. Birling, to care for others and accept responsibility before it is too late. Only twenty-one years later in 1939 another war broke out in Europe. World War Two lasted for six years, an extra two years of fighting the enemy. In 1945 the war ended. In that same year 'An Inspector Calls', the play that I will be analysing was written. John Boynton Priestley the author set his play in 1912, before these terrifying events. This is very significant in order for his play to work effectively, as the themes included in the play are one way or another, directly related to this time and the years and events that will follow. 'An Inspector Calls' covers very clearly a variety of different themes and ideas that Priestley is concerned about in society. He uses the Inspector as the main character, or one could say a tool, to express these themes and ideas to the audience. ...read more.

Middle

Gerald clearly is feeling nothing when he says this even though he is lying to his fianc� and deceiving himself. Sheila shows honesty and responsibility when she confesses that she got Eva Smith sacked from Milwards. She does not hesitate and takes responsibility for her role in the death of Eva Smith. The quotes that show her honesty is when she says; "(miserably) so I am really responsible?" this quotation is showing that Sheila is felling guilt for her participation in the death of Eva Smith. Also; "...I'm trying to tell the truth". This quotation is showing that Sheila is someone who is honest, kind and caring unlike her mother. The Inspector has in one way done a good thing by introducing this news, he has made the Birlings, Sheila in particular, realise that things terrible do happen, for example the suicide of Eva Smith, and if you have been responsible somehow then you should accept the consequences that await. Sheila explains what happened freely, and throughout she shows signs of guilt. Sheila is an honest person unlike her fianc� Gerald who needs persuasion to admit his role in the death. Mr. Birling being a businessman like Gerald has similar opinions (these two characters represent all upper class businessmen) and so when the Inspector and Eric try to make Mr. Birling feel responsible he obviously tries to blame it onto the girl and Gerald backs him up. The quote that shows this is when he says; "Rubbish! If you dont come down on some of this people they will soon be asking for the earth". Gerald replies "I should think so!" These quotations show that Mr Birling's honest opinion is to be tough and harsh to the employees if they ask for more so that you do not show weakness. It also shows that he feels strongly about this as he has used said this view in a loud manor (exclamation mark shows this). ...read more.

Conclusion

He during his visit accuses the characters of something allowing the rest of the household to start coming in with questions thus pressurising that particular character again; this creates tension and is attractive for the audience. And of course he leaves the play with a great impact on the audience, who or what is he? Why did he come here? These questions have no particular answer and so the audience may well discuss this after the play has ended. Priestley wanted the audience to think about his play and the Inspector when it had finished. He wanted it to be discussed and questioned he did this by using the Inspecotor - the way he worked throughout his appearance on stage. The audience can also, now with the experience of what the play is about, read over it again and approach it at a different angle trying to solve the many unsolved mysteries. What is the overall function of the Inspector in the play? I personally believe that the Inspector represents Priestley himself. He covers his entire central themes and ideas and allows the audience to think about these particular concerns. The audience is kept in suspense yet kept thinking on many important issues that are emotional and very dramatic. The Inspector is there on stage to get the characters confessing, and accepting responsibility and caring for others not just 'their kind'. The Inspector manages to pass on messages to the characters and make them see reality. 'An Inspector Calls' is a very dramatic and serious play that manages to keep an audience in many ways and express important issues to society. You should not begin to get greedy and selfish but instead learn to care 'for your brothers' because after all the message received from the play is clear; We are all members of one society, we must accept responsibility and care for others or accept the consequences. Raymond Broderick English - 'An Inspector Calls' Assignment ...read more.

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