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Why is the play “An Inspector Calls” still a popular play today?

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Introduction

Why is the play "An Inspector Calls" still a popular play today? J.B. Priestly's 1945 play "An Inspector calls" is still a success today. A new production of it has opened in the West-end, a sure-sign of its popularity and the play's success rate. Why is it still doing so well? A main theme of the play centres on the idea of different classes in society, something that has been evident to us all throughout history, and is therefore a very accessible theme for many people. This important theme is highlighted right at the beginning of the play when it is clear that Gerald Croft's parents don't entirely approve of his choice to marry Sheila Birling: "I have an idea that your mother - while she doesn't object to my girl - feels you might have done better for yourself socially" When Gerald's parents are brought up in conversation, also at the beginning, we hear the probable excuse for their absence: "It's a pity Sir George croft and Lady Croft can't be with us, but they're abroad and so it can't be helped" The difference in class between the Crofts and the Birlings can even be observed in the way Gerald speaks compared to how Mr. Birling speaks. Gerald seems to speak in a more upper-class way than Birling. For instance Gerald says things like "Oh - I say" and "Hear, hear!" ...read more.

Middle

We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other..." "... if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" This is a dramatic contrast, and the second speech in particular - although powerful in itself - is emphasized greatly by Birling's speech that he had previously made. The inspector's point of view summarizes the play in that everybody's lives are interconnected in some way - the whole family has an individual link to the suicide of the girl. Priestly makes it clear that the inspector's speech is the speech he wants to have impact on us as opposed to Birling's earlier speech in a number of ways. For example: the inspector's speech is emphasized greatly because of the conflicting viewpoints and at the beginning of the play, Birling also states that: "The Germans don't want war. Nobody wants war." He also marvels at the 'unsinkable' Titanic. These two points that he mentions are ironic because History proved him wrong and war did break out and the Titanic did sink. I think Priestly put these points in - noticeably before his conflicting speech - to deter the audience from thinking that his judgement and viewpoints were correct or reasonable, and so the audience listens and understands the conflicting speech he makes but does not agree with it because he had already been wrong about his opinions of war and the Titanic. ...read more.

Conclusion

I have looked at many methods Priestly used to write his play that all give justice to its high success rate today, but there is one more factor that clearly makes this play a very dramatic and powerful piece of work: the ending. Who is the inspector? Judging from the issues Priestly had raised in the play, personally I think that the inspector, the other characters and indeed the whole play is a microcosm of the way Priestly sees the world. The 'inspector' visited the family and told them of the damage they had done, but then they proved he did not really exist, it was like a warning of their potential to do damage. Then the damage does actually happen- a suicide, self-destruction, and because the characters lives were all interconnected they not only did damage to the woman but damage to themselves. I think that Priestly's point is to warn of the terrible, self-destruction the human race may well do through war. A big clue to this is the fact he wrote the play at the end of the second world war - and was most probably influenced by the effects of war, but set it just before the beginning of the first world war. The inspector's warning to the family is Priestly's warning to the world. "We are all responsible for each other and if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" ...read more.

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