• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the dramatic impact of the opening of the play An Inspector Calls?

Extracts from this document...


What is the dramatic impact of the opening of the play 'An Inspector Calls'? J B Priestley, a ground breaking and controversial writer of the time released the short play 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945, however it is set in 1912. The play concentrates on social issues of the time including the First World War and social and gender divisions. It follows an upper class family who are under interrogation by a rather odd inspector who, after some time, manages to link each member of the family with the death of a young woman. The time that the play is set is only two years before the First World War and the issues that are discussed within the play bring up quite controversial views. In 1945 these issues of social and gender differences, and also the arrogance of the nation and other parts of the world were mainly resolved. Both world wars had finished and as the impact had shaken the entire world many people were much more realistic about the chances of war and fighting in the world. This also brought about a more equal nation meaning less distinction between upper and lower classes and women were also more valued. As Priestley was also a very strong believer in a 'better society' he helped set up the Common Wealth party who argued for these changes. ...read more.


With all the characters and their traits there is some relation to the seven sins: Pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, anger, lust and greed. This is a theme in the play that plays on the audience's mind, much like other themes; this trait sticks with the character and later on the audience can see these more and more. However Sheila and Eric seem to lose these traits, showing their separation between Mr and Mrs Birling and Eric. This is because of Eric and Sheila's social responsibilities, and their realisation that what they did was wrong. The exit of Eric brings about an opportunity for Birling to talk to Gerald 'man-to-man' where he brings up the possibility of him being on "the next Honours List", which seems to impress Gerald. This, to Birling, is a very big occasion and even though it is not definite he feels he must tell Gerald, as his father is also a 'Sir'. This information is only exchanged with Gerald, as Birling is barely confident that he will receive a knighthood, he just wants to boast in front of his future son-in-law. When Eric re-enters Gerald and Birling are laughing but they do not share the joke with Eric, "Eric: What's the joke? Started telling stories? Birling: No.", they feel he is not man enough to be brought into the conversation they are having. ...read more.


The name Goole reminds us of a ghost, as in ghoul, and the phrase dues ex machine means god out of a machine, maybe the Inspector is the voice of God or that of Priestley. Either way the inspector comes in to completely change current events and disrupt the family to reveal their true selves. The foreshadowing and irony that the inspector brings to the play is also greatly relevant, when he says: "you seem to be a nice respectable family". The audience already know to some extent and later totally discover how untrue this is, another example of the unreliability of the family. The opening of the play aims to establish character and setting. It does this by simply describing each character we also discover how Birling is very arrogant and very narrow minded which is shown through his ridiculous assumptions. The Inspector is established as a very powerful and dominating character the reference to him and 'the light' is also in the opening. The major themes are also introduced, such as the class and gender division and the moral and social responsibilities that are also linked with the age of the characters. Priestley makes the opening of 'An Inspector Calls' very dramatic towards the end to draw and entice the audience to watch more. Priestley explores quite controversial issues of the time, and these issues make the audience interpret the character differently, showing how he uses the audience's personal experiences to influence their feelings towards the play. English Literature Coursework ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. An Inspector Calls - How does the opening scene prepare the audience for the ...

    Finally Mr Birling predicts that the whole world would be moving forward with rapid progress, except in Russia. Again what he didn't know and what the audience did know is that the only country not affected by the great depression was the Soviet Union and in the 1950's it was the second most industrialised country in the world behind America.

  2. Examine the dramatic impact of the inspector in 'An Inspector Calls' with reference to ...

    He is described as a not very big man. However he also states that he creates a massiveness, solidarity and purposefulness. Priestly also describes him by saying that he speaks carefully, weightily and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he address's before speaking.

  1. Consider the ways in which Priestley's portrayal of Inspector Goole an the way in ...

    He uses this photograph to create tension between the characters as he controls who is allowed to see the picture and who is not. Mr Birling for instance is allowed to see the photograph however Eric and Gerald are excluded from seeing the photograph which causes Gerald to become agitated,

  2. "An Inspector Calls" - issues raised in the play concerning the social structure ...

    We are told that the merchant informed Mr. Birling of this similarity but it is obvious he asked which port Gerald's father bought and has used this to impress Gerald, this may be a way in which Mr. Birling is trying to 'climb the social ladder' to one on a par with the Croft family and his wife.

  1. Discuss the impact of the inspector's final speech & exit and explore why it ...

    every action of one person there is an opposite and equal reaction. It is as if Newton's Third law of motion applies to how the society is. Towards the end of the speech, the Inspector says 'If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire

  2. Imagine you are Directing a production of "An Inspector Calls". Explain how you would ...

    As Arthur compliments the cook his wife, Sybil ought to look surprised and shocked that he should do such a thing in the presence of Gerald when she says "Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things" suggesting that Mr Birling is not actually of the social status he first appears to be, but is thriving to be.

  1. Arthur Birling is a rather portentous man in his middle fifties with a fairly ...

    Sheila was in on the discussion between the inspector, Gerald, Arthur and her brother Eric. She was immediately told to run along by her father. Sheila objects to her parent's attempts to protect her from the truth and refuses to leave until she is told what was going on.

  2. What do you, the audience, learn about the Inspector and his dramatic importance?

    a big man and shows he has a certain presence about him His name is Inspector Goole. The name 'Goole' is that of a seaside town which lies at the mouth of the river. This could suggest that the Inspector may fish for evidence and search deep into the family lives, secrets and lies.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work