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What is JB Priestley's main aim in An Inspector Calls? Is it suitable for a contemporary audience?

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Introduction

What is JB Priestley's main aim in An Inspector Calls? Is it suitable for a contemporary audience? During An Inspector Calls, JB Priestly uses the Birling family and the inspector to show life in a different light. Within the Inspectors presence throughout the play, Priestly delivers his aims to the audience by certain characteristics in the family and the social commentary from the inspector. Combined they change the audience's perception of society, which is one of Priestley's aims. In An Inspector Calls, Priestly tries to argue against the Edwardian values displayed by the Birling Family by focusing on society of around that time period. Mr Birling is portrayed as an upper class man who is not afraid to show it. He is also shown as a capitalist and his ignorance is clearly seen in his personality. In the first act of An Inspector Calls, he displays his self pride by showing off about himself as a "hard-headed businessman" and shows his arrogance by making claims about society which the audience knows turn out to be wrong in the real world (dramatic irony). Priestly uses dramatic irony to emphasise Mr Birling's arrogance since he says "There isn't a chance of war" where in fact, a few years later after the year in which the play was set in, World War one commences leaving Mr Birling looking a little silly by the audience. ...read more.

Middle

Learning from your errors is another lesson which is commonly taught and further emphasised with Priestley's portrayal of Sheila. Soon after expressing her traumatic feeling towards the matter, she vows "I'll never, never do it again to anybody..." which presents Sheila's ability to learn from her mistakes and move on. At the end of Sheila's confession, the next on the inspectors hit-list is Gerald as he is sprung on suddenly by the inspector. Gerald appears very defensive about the whole situation and is quite disgusted by the inspector's claim that this crime has something to do with an upper class family "After all y'know, we're respectable citizens and not criminals." This rather arrogant comment shows that Gerald thinks there is a big and clear difference between the classes, which could be argued as discrimination since an upper class family can be just as likely to commit a crime as a lower class family. I think this is one of the more prominent aims of Priestly as he is trying to get an important point across to the audience - there isn't as much difference between classes as you may think. After Gerald's exit from the house to collect his thoughts, Eric is the next one who is looked upon. Shortly after the start of the interrogation, Eric is asked to explain the events in which he was involved in. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the end I think the main aim from Priestly comes from the inspector. The inspector plays a hugely influential role in the play as he holds many lessons that Priestley hopes to get across to the audience. Priestley tries to convince people that we are working as one community where people help each other and live closely as a unit. The Inspector explains how "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other" and I think this is effective to both a modern and 1945 audience since both time periods have recently or are experiencing war. This shows how people should stick together through the hard times and support each other when people are in need. I think Priestley's most important aim is when he tries to get people thinking about their actions and what may result of them. This is done effectively as the play revolves around a "chain of events" where one event leads to another and in more cases than not, fuels the problems beyond repair. This point is very relevant to any audience, past or present as it applies to everyday life all the time. It is also a lesson taught by many people to the younger generation. Furthermore, quite a lot of the minor aims are linked to acknowledging your actions and learning from consequences and therefore adds to the main aim of thinking about your actions. ...read more.

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