In Act 1 of "An Inspector Calls", how does J.B.Priestly use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to members of the audience as well as interest and involve them in the play?

Authors Avatar

English  Coursework: “An  Inspector  Calls”

Jevany Thompson

         In Act 1 of “An Inspector Calls”, how does J.B.Priestly use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to members of the audience as well as interest and involve them in the play??


  John Braine Priestly, playwright of “An Inspector Calls” uses many dramatic devices in the play as a means of communicating his humanitarian ideas to the audience. In this way he also expresses humanistic views in the hope of enlightening his audience and to make them more aware of how their actions affect the lives of others. Examples of these devices include the play’s lighting, introduction of new characters and stage directions.

Priestley’s main concerns are, that people do not realize the consequences their actions have on other people’s lives; and also the lack of realization that ignorance of the world around us will not prevent suffering. This first point is demonstrated through the series of events leading up to the young girl’s suicide in the play, with causes such as that of Arthur Birling when he sacked ‘Eva Smith’ from his business or when Sheila used her influence to discharge her from Milwards dress shop; both of which “didn’t seem to be such anything terrible at the time” but in series with the other incidents that lead to the suffering and eventually suicide of a young girl, seem otherwise.

        The second issue is conveyed through the speech Mr. Birling gives and the dramatic irony produced; as “An Inspector Calls was written in the winter of 1945 (post world wars) and produced in the UK in 1946 with audiences obviously well aware of the suffering that occurred because of the wars and also of events such as the sinking of the ‘Titanic’. However, the play itself is set in 1912 before the second world war in Europe began. Therefore in the play Birling is ignorant of how the future unfolds, “The Germans don’t want war. Nobody wants war.”, “ In 1940 you’ll be living in a world that’ll have forgotten all these silly little war scares.” & “ the Titanic-unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable!” All these quotes create dramatic irony as Birling’s points are completely wrong; in addition they also back up Priestley’s claims of humanitarianism theory. Birling’s speech is also a way of engaging the audience as the character’s lack of knowledge puts the members of the audience in a higher ranking position of intelligence.

Join now!

            The authors use of lighting is another dramatic device as it can effects the ambience of each scene and the mood of the characters. At the beginning of Act 1, “the lighting should be pink and intimate” Thus producing happy, romantic surroundings for the engagement party; whilst symbolizing the close relationships between the family and expressing the hazy glow of conversation.

            Different lighting effects are produced when Inspector Goole arrives as the lighting changes to “ a brighter and harder” emphasis. This stresses the stern character of the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay