• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the literary device of dramatic irony and the use made of it by J.B. Priestly in An Inspector Calls

Extracts from this document...


Grace Turner 15th December 2010 Discuss the literary device of dramatic irony and the use made of it by J.B. Priestly in ?An Inspector Calls? An inspector calls was written in 1945 by J.B. Priestley and is set in 1912. J. B. Priestly has included a lot of dramatic irony; he uses it effectively to put forward the message of the play ? community. Dramatic irony is the dramatic effect achieved by leading an audience to understand an incongruity between a situation and the accompanying speeches, while the characters in the play remain unaware of the incongruity (the free online dictionary). Another writer who uses dramatic irony effectively is William Shakespeare. One play in which Shakespeare uses dramatic irony often and to great effect is in Romeo and Juliet. Without the use of dramatic irony, the dramatic end to the play could never have occurred: ?A pair of star-cross?d lovers take their life; Whose misadventur?d piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents? strife.? This example of dramatic irony is taken from the chorus before the start of the play. After hearing the chorus, the audience knows the basic outline of the whole play, whereas the characters are left in the dark. Another example of dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet is in Act 1 Scene 5 after the Capulet ball, when Juliet says to the nurse: ?Go ask his name. ...read more.


Mr. Birling only really values money and uses Sheila, his daughter, and her marriage to Gerald Croft, as a business deal to unite his business ?Birling and Company? with ?Crofts Limited?: ?? And now you?ve brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together ?? Mr. Birling seems to be more interested in the business opportunity that his daughter?s marriage will provide, rather than the happiness of his daughter. This is not to say that he does not love his daughter or that he does not show any interest in her marriage, it just seems that his business is his main priority. Mr. Birling is a social climber and this is another reason he is so keen on his daughter?s marriage to Gerald Croft, due to the fact the Crofts are of higher status than the Birlings. Mrs. Birling is also of a higher social status than Mr. Birling and she constantly has to remind him of the correct way to behave. Mr. and Mrs. Birling have two children; Eric and Sheila. Both start the play being rather naive and Sheila seems to be very superficial. By the end of the play, however, both of them, unlike Mr. ...read more.


Sheila tries to stop her mother before it?s too late, but Mrs. Birling says ?Be quiet, Sheila!? and continues, oblivious to the situation. The use of dramatic irony in this play is to teach valuable lessons. It makes the audience doubt the characters believes and values. In most cases, we can give a reasonably accurate judgement about each character from their first speech. As this play is written in hindsight, we know that Mr. Birling?s judgements about the future are inaccurate and therefore we start to question his reactions, beliefs and values. Priestly wants us to disagree with everything Mr. Birling stands for and to therefore realise that the way Mr. Birling and people in general acted in 1912 could not continue. The Inspectors final speech concludes the play by telling the audience outright the point of the play and telling each member of the family that their views of life are inaccurate and need to change. He tells the Birling family that; ?We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.? The audience know that in two years, the inspector?s speech will be proven correct by the outbreak of war. They also know that the lesson was not learned and that the Second World War occurred, and even in the current day, the lesson has still not been learned. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly, an overview

    Finally, she states that, "you have no power to change my mind, showing that she has learnt nothing from the interview. She tries to shift blame onto others by blaming Eva and the young man who was the father of the baby.Mrs Birling is shocked when she discovers that this

  2. An Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly

    She is the person who becomes the Inspector's ally during the questioning and agrees with him the most. Mrs Birling is perhaps the character who remains most resolute in her beliefs during the play. From start to finish she believes steadfastly in her husband's opinions, out-doing even Birling himself in her refusal to listen to alternative notions.

  1. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    They then are introduced back into the play when the inspector questions Gerald. Gerald's affair is discovered, which again shows another way that social responsibility has been explored. He then moves on to Mrs Birling, which again shows how he is developing the plot further.

  2. An Inspector Calls. How does J.B Priestley use the Inspector as a dramatic ...

    gave Priestley the advantage of hindsight and the opportunity to use dramatic irony. This is seen in Sheila's character, she's a spoilt, childish woman who is unable to make decisions herself, evident when she says, 'Oh - Gerald - you've got it - is it the one you wanted me to have?'

  1. To what extent is the inspector a dramatic device used by JB Prietley to ...

    One important device which Priestley uses to manipulate his audience is the use of time. The play is set in 1912, but it was written and performed more than thirty years later. This allows Priestley to make Mr. Birling seem even more ridiculous, as he says things that we know, in hindsight, to be false.

  2. Consider the many ways in which J.B. Priestly uses the character of Inspector Goole ...

    The Inspector's response to this statement is merely a half hearted, " Quite so." Showing that he is not all that impressed. It is for this reason that Mr. Birling does not continue to treat the Inspector as politely as he has been.

  1. 1st draft How does J B Priestly use the characters in Act Three of ...

    unfortunately, that's all" This is another way that J B Priestly gets across his opinions He is still not accepting that he is partly to blame and stands by his decision to sack the workers demanding a higher wage, and that his wife (who is even more -hearted than he is.)

  2. How does Priestly use the characters in the play to give a political and ...

    Another way that the plays gives a social and political message with his characters is the fact that the play also shows how true it is that the usage of pride comes before a fall - especially the false pride shown by some of the characters.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work