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What was Priestley's aim in writing an Inspector Calls? How successfully does he achieve his aim?

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Introduction

What was Priestley's aim in writing an Inspector Calls? How successfully does he achieve his aim? Priestley had more than one aim in writing 'An Inspector Calls' however he did have one main aim, which was to voice his own socialist views. From 1939 to 1940 Priestley broadcast his own radio show that he used to express his opinions about society and morality. This BBC radio show was banned in 1940 because many people did not agree with socialists and their ideas of equality during the Second World War. Priestley then had to find another vehicle for his own moral and social views: his plays. In his plays Priestley could make his message more subtle than in a radio show. This way of voicing his views let Priestley involve the audience in them therefore trying to teach the audience a lesson by making them question their own behaviour. Priestley's ultimate intention was to make 'An Inspector Calls' entertaining but also didactic, which was a much more effective way of presenting his opinions than preaching them through the media. Another of Priestley's aims in writing 'An Inspector Calls' was to illustrate the division between the upper and lower classes. When deciding the date that the play would be set in, Priestley obviously thought of a time when this division was more obvious than in 1946 when the play was written. This is why it is set in 1912. This helps Priestley to explain the relationship between the two classes and how the upper class treat the lower class in a less than moral way demonstrating that there is no link between class and morality. ...read more.

Middle

Alderman Meggarty especially has a very bad reputation among people of the same class: 'He's a notorious womanizer as well as being one of the worst sots and rogues in Brumley -.' This shows that Gerald and Eric are not alone in the behaviour they demonstrate in their involvement with Eva Smith. All of the Birlings and Gerald Croft are used by Priestley to show the audience how people of the upper class regularly abuse their power and how class certainly doesn't determine moral behaviour. Eva Smith is a representative of the lower class and how it reacts to the upper class. She is very strong-willed as she demonstrates through all of her involvement with the Birlings and Gerald but the upper class don't like this which is why she is so unfortunate. With Mr Birling she stands up for what she believes is right when she leads a strike for higher pay but gets fired for doing it. With Sheila she tries to be polite and kind but, just because of her good looks, is fired from working in the shop. With Gerald she is very grateful for his generosity but he breaks off the relationship as he doesn't really love her and never intended that it would be anything more than an affair. With Eric she is only trying to earn some money but when she finds out that Eric is stealing it and he doesn't love her at all she leaves. With Mrs Birling she only asks for help because she is in a terrible situation but she gets refused help as Mrs Birling is prejudiced against her. ...read more.

Conclusion

He seems more concerned with what is right and wrong rather than what is legal and this moral dimension makes him different to a usual police inspector: 'We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.' Priestley uses the well-known 'whodunnit?' genre so that the audience can recognise and understand it well however he manages to make it his own which helps 'An Inspector Calls' to be more successful as a play. In doing this Priestley also made his play more successful as a vehicle for voicing his views, as he was able to make it his own and therefore include his own feelings in it. Priestley especially chose this genre for these specific reasons. By only having one focus throughout the whole of 'An Inspector Calls' which slowly progresses Priestley is able to keep the audience involved by giving them things to think about but by still using the same focal point. At the beginning of the play the idea that Mr Birling does not agree with everyone being united is established and then built on when the Inspector arrives and during his final speech when he proclaims that 'We are all responsible for each other.' Priestley intentionally began 'An Inspector Calls' as a naturalistic play but only to become more unnatural as it progressed. This brings up many questions from the audience who thought they knew what was happening then suddenly find they don't. For example, the Inspector seems realistic but becomes less so as the play progresses. This is a successful way to write a play because it gives the audience a reason to be interested in it allowing the writer to form a successful and educational play. Ruth Whitford 1 ...read more.

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