English coursework “An Inspector calls” Leah Usher
An Inspector calls
Priestly has set this play called “An inspector calls” in 1912 maybe because there was not only the opportunity for predictions, but also for a more drastic look at the relationship between the rich and the poor. The class gap of 1912 was much larger then that of 1945 and so was more noticeable to the audiences, even though he wrote it in 1945, he has used his own experience to write a famous novel which has be forwarded as a West end musical and Movie form, The play is set after the second world war, around the time when titanic sinks, we also learn that rich and poor were divided into different classes back in those time as Priestly shows, They were different worlds, which hardly ever met. 8 million poor people had to live on 25 shillings a week, which is roughly £1.25 not a lot. They were under housed under fed and under the thumb. Working women were at the top of the pile. They had little education, no sanitation, no dull and no NHS. The women of the higher working class relied on marrying the right man. Poor people had to live their lives struggling until they were sent to workhouses, until they died because they had no pensions. I think that the messages of the play was particularly effective to the audiences of 1946. I think Priestley knew that the message of his play would reach the war-weary audiences f the era more effectively then it would reach the audiences of a different time.
During the Second World War this was all different; children were evacuated so the different classes got mixed together as well as the army. This was giving Britain a version of how a truly socialist Britain might be. It made people realise how selfish they have been to each other and helped them to start caring about one another. Priestleys hope was that life after the war would be better than before so he wrote an inspector calls to say to his 1945 audience “do you want to go back to the sufferings of 1912 or do you want to develop the sort of world you experienced during the Second World War, where everyone works together?
This is a preview of the whole essay
I am now going to describe Arthur Birling, Shelia Birling and the Inspector, Arthur bilring is the kind of character which the whole play warns against, “A hard headed business man” he believes that society is as it should be. The rich stay poor and the rich stay rich and there’s a large gap between the two. He was a level minded upper class bussines man, who throught was above the rest of lower class,
Shelia Birling character is fairly caring at the beginning of the play, but events unravel and shila realises her guilt, her character develops from a fairly young girlish character to a more mature, understanding character.
Inspector Goole is mysterious in away, he has a way of making the characters confess to him, and to themselves, their role in Eva Smiths demise, the air of mysterious is intentional because of his character, his name is an obvious pun, ghoul-meaning ghost. We are a audience which never finds out who this really is.
The play “an inspector calls” is set in the Birlings dining room. This one set makes the audience focus on the involvement of Eva Smiths death. The dining room is of upper class showing us that they are rich and have done well in life. There are three acts in the play and each one ends in a cliff hanger to hold the audiences attention.
When the inspector first walks in he has an “impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness,” this shows he is determined and that he has a presence. Inspector Goole has a “disconcerting habit of looking hard at a person he addresses before actually speaking” this unnerves people making them feel uncomfortable and small against him and so gives the person he addresses the impression that he isn’t an inspector to lie to and that he means business. When the inspector deals with his line of inquirery he deals with one and one only he shows a “photo to one person at a time” suggesting that maybe he might be showing a different photo to different members of the family which is weird because they all see the photo why not at the same time?
Priestly uses the term of the Titanic being “unsinkable” but as we know it sunk on its first vogue, maybe Priestly associates the titanic with the inspector, because we see the family celebrating then announcement of a inspector is there iceberg which sinks there boat.
The Birlings are a 1912 middle class well to do family. When the inspector arrives they are celebrating Shielas engagement to Gerald croft business associate, Mr Birling’s rival. The arrival of the inspector is unexpected and the reason for Shiela and Gerald splitting up owing to the fact that it came out into the open about Gerald’s affair with Eva. Shiela was the only person to seem bothered by what the inspector had to say while Eric just accepted his responsibility.
Mr Arthur Birling, Mrs Birling and Gerald refused to admit to any involvement to Evas death so much so in fact that when the inspector left Mr Birling got Gerald to phone the police station to see if there is an inspector Goole and also the infirmary to see if there is a victim of suicide there who died by way of drinking strong disinfectant. When the family find out there’s no inspector Goole and no suicide victim they come to the conclusion that this must have been a trick of some sort and they breathe a sigh of relief and carry on celebrating not picking up on the message that they had done something wrong in the long run and not learning the lesson meant for them. But when they get a phone call saying that a woman has just turned up at the infirmary dead after drinking some strong disinfectant and that an inspector is on his way. This stops the family celebrating of course and that’s when the family really understand what they have done.
In an inspector calls Priestley expresses his news by using the inspector as a dramatic device to show his 1945 audience how selfish people were in 1912, this play should show everybody how they have been acting and so will therefore change for the better to make the world a better place. The play starts with Birling saying “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own and…” I think Priestley deliberately made the inspector walk in at that time to stop Birling finishing that self centred line and telling people subconsciously that he can put a stop to Birlings selfish ways, by stopping Birling finishing that sentence people are made to think how the inspector can put a stop to things. Later on in the play Birling says “Rubbish! If you don’t come down sharply on some of these people, they’d soon be asking for the earth.” This is another quotation to show how selfish Birling is and it is showing what people say about poor people. However the inspector wipes the smile from Birlings face when he says “they might, but after all it’s better to ask for the earth than just take it.” This reply from the inspector says that Birling takes and is greedy. The inspector is acting as Priesleys Mouthpiece because that line makes the people watching think whether they just take like Birling and other upper class people.
The inspector seems to enjoy have a lot to say to Birling he says to him “public men, Mr Birling, has responsibilities as well as privileges.” The inspector again is acting as Priestley’s mouthpiece meaning Birling needs to be aware of his responsibilities to others. The inspector later snaps and says “don’t stammer and yammer at me again man. I’m losing all patience with you people” at this time the inspector is getting annoyed at Birling because of his selfishness and by the inspector referring to the Birling family as “you people” is meaning that they are like all the other upper class families’ that don’t think about anybody but themselves and so sending a message to the audience as well. When inspector Goole had finished interrogating the family he stood up and said “each of you helped to kill her. Remember that, never forget it.”
This is being said so that they will think about it and understand their guilt, the inspector being their nemesis figure also carries on to say “you made her pay a heavy price for that and now she’ll make you pay a heavier price still.” This line means that the heavy price they are paying is living their lives knowing they have each helped kill someone. The inspector then finishes with “one Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and john smiths still with us,” the inspector saying this is being a dramatic device and meaning treat other people with respect and to think before you act because otherwise they could ruin another life. As a result of the inspectors sayings Priestley gets the message across through the inspector yet again. “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body, we are responsible for each other.” This quotation is also being Priestleys mouthpiece to tell the world that nobody is better than anybody else and that we are altogether one. “The time will soon come when, if men if men will not learn that lesson then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” And so as the quotation says if people don’t start pulling together and working as a team in society without the racism and different classes then they will have no chance to win in world war one and even after the war things were still bad considering all the segregation Britain faces and may lead on to more wars and worse conditions to live in. the inspector saying this is acting as Priestley’s mouthpiece and he is being Priestleys dramatic device.
The inspector has a lot of ways to deal with his suspects that another inspector wouldn’t use to get answers. The inspector seems to want the whole world to be equal, without segregation, which I agree with. The play sends the message, to be aware of what you say because of the consequences it may bring. It is still an important message to send to an audience of the 21st century, more and more people seem to help each other in life meaning child-line and services of all ages and animals too. Priestley has wrote this play to send out a message and he has used the inspector efficiently using him as his mouthpiece, and the voice of social conscience and a nemesis figure: the inspector tries to tell people that you can’t hide what you have done, however little it may seem because there are always consequences which are not always good.