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An Inspector Calls

by J.B. Priestley

Published: 1945

Country: United Kingdom

Publisher: Heinemann

An Inspector Calls seems at first to be a straightforward mystery, a “whodunit” where the guests are conveniently assembled so that the detective can eliminate suspects until he finds the culprit. Although the play uses the conventions of a house party thriller, J. B. Priestley wasn’t interested in unmasking one villain – he had the whole of British society in mind. He plays with these conventions and the notion of time to create a drama with a strong moral purpose.

The play is set in 1912, the year the Titanic sunk, two years before the First World War, and it was written during the Second World War, to be first performed just when that war was ending. Priestley intended the play to be a warning- in the Inspector’s words: “I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” Such a warning remains relevant whenever the play is performed.

The Inspector forces each character to face up to his or her responsibilities for the lives of others who are less fortunate than themselves. Some, however, try to forget his message... Until the final dramatic twist.

An Inspector Calls Essays

Have a read of our great student written essays to help give you some inspiration for your own writing!

An Inspector Calls - review

4 star(s)

John Boynton Priestly was a socialist. He believed that whether we acknowledged it or not, we are in a community and have a responsibility to look after others...

Show how in 'An Inspector Calls' Priestley creates dramatic tension through focus on characters, plot and the

3 star(s)

riestley uses the Inspector to create the drama and the tension in the play by Goole being in control of the characters on the stage. The drama and tension rises gradually from before the Inspector's arrival...

Peer reviewed

An Inspector Calls By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of social criticism. What is being criticised in the play?

4 star(s)

The major flaws in society were due to the division of the income of one group, to the next. To put this into context, 87% of the countries wealth was in 5% of its population...

Analysis of 'An Inspector Calls'

3 star(s)

John Boynton Priestly was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on 13 September 1893. His mother died in the same year and...

Marked by a teacher

Questions and Answers on An Inspector Calls

3 star(s)

If he wasn't like that, he would probably had felt afflicted, or give some type of importance, the moment when he received the news that a woman who used to work in his factory had committed suicide. If he...

Drama: An Inspector Calls - overview of the plot

4 star(s)

When each member of the Birling family find out that they contributed to the death of Eva Smith, they react in very different ways and learn different things from the experience. Mr Birling is an arrogant and recognisable capitalist. He is highly conceited, and...