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What reactions does Priestley intend the audience to have to the content of the play? How does he set about achieving them?

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Introduction

What reactions does Priestley intend the audience to have to the content of the play? How does he set about achieving them? An 'Inspector Calls' was written by the playwright J.B Priestley in 1945, just after World War 2. It was set in 1912 in Brumley an imaginary industrial town in the north. The continuous three-act play takes place in the dining room of the Birling's house, one evening in spring. The Birling's are enjoying a celebration between the engagement of Shelia his daughter and Gerald Croft, when a police inspector rudely interrupts the family wishing to interview them over the death of Eva Smith a working class girl. Priestly uses a mystery or whodunit genre, through the character of the inspector to show the audience what could happen because of their actions. He wanted the audience to be aware of their individual and collective responsibility for how they treated other people from different classes and how this affected society in general. By careful use of stage directions, lighting and how the characters are allowed to associate with each other, Priestley ensures there is nothing that will distract the attention of the audience. Lighting plays an important part in this play and was used to reflect the mood on the stage. At the start of the play pink coloured lighting was used to create a peaceful and happy atmosphere. ...read more.

Middle

He is affronted that a working class person has the audacity to question him. Mrs Birling's interview portrayed her coldness as a woman and also towards the working class, "I didn't like her manner, she'd impertinently made use of our name". Mrs Birling is hard on Eva and wants no blame for the death of Eva Smith. "Unlike the other three, I did nothing I'm ashamed of or that wont bear investigation". Mrs Birling also claims "...I did my duty" and that "... You have no power to make me change my mind". Mrs Birling believes it's the father's fault, "Go and look for the father of the child. It's his responsibility", not realising the father of the child is Eric her son. Following the inspector's questioning of Shelia we find that she reacts guiltily, "And if I could help her now, I would-". Eva was sacked from Milwards when Shelia believed Eva was giggling at her when trying on a dress. Shelia then used her class and status to get the girl fired. "I went to the manager at Milwards, and told him that if he didn't get rid of that girl, I'd never go near the place again and I'd persuade mother to close our account with you". We are then told from the inspector that Eva Smith changed her name to Daisy Renton, wishing to put the past behind her, hoping to make a new start. ...read more.

Conclusion

The family's positions drove Eva Smith to a dreadful death. At the end of each act, including the last one, the audience is left in suspense. Through the three acts Priestley carefully ensures dismissing characters and returning them for their interrogation not to distract the audience, allowing them to concentrate on certain parts of the play. In act one this is because the inspector has begun to suggest that many people share a joint responsibility for the misery, which prompted Eva Smith to end her young sad life. By the end of act 2 it's revealed that Eva is pregnant and there's a strong suspicion that Eric might be the father of the unborn child. At the end of act 3 the Inspector's strange behaviour leads to doubts about his identity, which also raises doubt about Eva and her death. Then comes a telephone call from an Inspector investigating the death of a working class woman on the way to the infirmary. Priestley leaves the audience with the problem of deciding who or what was the real role of the inspector. Whether he was real or a time traveller does not seem as important as the messages the inspector portrayed. As Shelia said, "Well, he inspected us alright." Perhaps that is what Priestley intended the audience to understand that the inspector can call on us any time. Daniel Coles 10.5 Page 1 An Inspector Calls-J. B Priestley An Inspector Calls - J.B. Priestley ...read more.

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