Write a letter from Priestley to a colleague explaining his reasons for, and his approach to, writing "An Inspector Calls."
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Date: February 2002 Play: An Inspector Calls (1947) Playwright: J.B. Priestley Assignment title: Write a letter from Priestley to a colleague explaining his reasons for, and his approach to, writing "An Inspector Calls." J.B. Priestley 36 Willow Road Hilton Yorkshire YK8 4ND 12-05-47 Dear Charles, Hello, how are you? I realise it has been quite a lengthy time since we last spoke. The war has seen to that I suppose. I am utterly dismayed at the state of this country though, as it has been a good two years since he war ended, and still there are many distressed people. It is on this theme that I am writing you this letter - I feel the need to clarify my reasons for, and my approach to writing my latest drama, "An Inspector Calls." I am quite certain you will have read the reviews for "An Inspector Calls." I myself have done so and cannot express my disappointment with them. I somehow feel that the reason it has been rated so badly is because nobody understands it. This I will explain to you, as you are one of my oldest and dearest friends whom I trust completely. I thought that, with everything going on in the world today, it's a shame that no one takes responsibility for their actions, or for each other. This was my first idea for writing "An Inspector Calls." Mankind should learn that everyone has a responsibility for each other and not just for themselves. Other themes I included are those of guilt versus denial and capitalists versus socialists. I also wanted to make the play as dramatic as possible, therefore I used dramatic devices such as dramatic irony to keep the audience in suspense. I suppose, in this way, the style of my play had become one of a detective thriller, with a slight "whodunit" suspense about it. I did not want it to end there, however, as I wanted my play to contain a moral message.
Gerald thought of Eva/ Daisy as being "pretty," "fresh" and "charming." She went with Gerald to a hotel where Gerard learnt that Eva/Daisy was "desperately hard up." They met a second time by arrangement, when Gerald offered her a place to stay at his friend's residence. His honourable intentions, however, started to go astray, as their feelings for each other grew, and soon, Eva/Daisy, had become Gerald's "mistress." Gerald still showed his conscience; however, as he presented Eva a parting gift of money when they split, and out of every individual who was involved with Eva, Gerald was the only one who "made her happy for a time." I decided that Gerald's guilt and remorse should not be equal to that of Sheila's, but more than Mr Birling felt, in order to make Gerald a suitable character for discovering the truth regarding Inspector Goole's identity. The actor playing Gerald Croft should be "well-bred" and well mannered. He should use a normal speaking voice throughout, but when he brings news of the Inspectors falseness, he should speak excitedly, and his facial expressions should show the same feelings. This could be done by the actor having large eyes and speaking very quickly. I used Eric Birling's character to show how easy it is for women like Eva to be preyed on for sex and also, as Gerald did, to show the way in which some men used women like Eva. I felt that the best way to exhibit this would be through traits in Eric's personality. I decided upon Eric being "in his early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy" and "half assertive," as well as being a man who drinks "far too much." I also felt that Eric Birling should have a tense relationship with his father, and not consider him "the kind of father a chap could go to when he's in trouble."
The second twist was when Arthur Birling telephoned the infirmary to confirm whether or not a girl was bought in "who committed suicide by drinking disinfectant." The result was that the infirmary hadn't had a suicide "for months." I wanted the audience to now think that everything would go back to normal, and just as it was beginning to, the final, and most dramatic twist was unveiled- a telephone call from the "police" declaring that an "inspector is on his way" to question the Birlings regarding the suicide of a young girl. This meant that the play did not really contain an ending as the entire drama is going to begin afresh. This was deliberate on my part, as I wanted to leave the audience is suspense and question what would happen next. All in all, I wanted the play to demonstrate that we are all responsible for each other despite our class or social status; the significant thing is that we are all humans. I needed to show that we should think about others not just because it is the correct thing to do, but because we cannot escape the repercussions if we don't. I also wanted to suggest there might be hope for the future. The two youngest characters, Sheila and Eric, have been taught something and represent hope for the future. I also associated the end of the play to the two World Wars; just as the Birlings' became self-satisfied, they receive a phone call about the dead girl. In the same way, as Europe became self-satisfied, World War Two began. I had hoped that by the time the audience had seen the play, they would learn to think about others so that their selfishness does not lead to disastrous consequences. I do apologise for writing so much, but I hope you'll understand what I was trying to achieve. Do write back and let me know how things are with you. Take care and thank you for listening. Yours truly, J.B. Priestley. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nimu Varsani 10N 1 8
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