An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley
An Inspector Calls includes aspects of a detective story and a social
critique. I believe when J. B. Priestly set out to write this play, he
wanted it as a didactic (educating) play and a social critique that
implied "we are responsible for each other" and we should all learn
form our mistakes. However he knew that the 1946 audience would not
want to watch a play telling them about social issues as it would not
be of interest and for this reason, I believe he chose to embed a
social critique within the very popular detective story to give it a
twist and make the play more entertaining for the audiences.
The play begins as a social critique.
An Inspector Calls was first performed in 1946 and the play was set in
1912. This means that when the play was first performed, although Mr.
Birling considers himself as "hard-headed", looking at the facts and
speaking the truth, in reality today's audience recognise Mr. Birling
as quite naÃ¯ve, when making comments like "the Titanicâ€¦absolutely
unsinkable". This would be found ironic by today's audiences as well
as the 1946 audience, as they would have experienced the sinking of
the titanic later in 1912. Some of the 1946 audience may have been
offended by this quote as they had lost people in the sinking of the
"unsinkable" and people in today's audiences would find it ironic to
see someone of his class, speaking as if he knows everything but
misquoting occurrences several times in his speech.
Mr. Birling was also incorrect in quoting that in twenty or thirty
years' time people will "have forgotten Capital versus Labour", i.e.
no more employers versus employees, no more "agitations" and no more
strikes, however strikes still occurred and still occur. He also
suggests that around that time "there'll be peace and prosperity" but
the 1946 audience had just experienced two World Wars and the 1936
This whole speech teaches everyone to only speak the facts, and not to
be complacent. In 1946, the speech would affect the audience as they
would walk away and reflect on how things should have been according
to Birling and how things had turned out. They would then perceive
that because of people with attitudes like Mr. Birling, believing
things will get better but not helping to make things better, life is
as it is. Some of the audience would turn around and begin to do
things with their lives, and try to make a difference or a mark in the
world to show how things should be done and speak their minds as to
how they want things to be done. They could gain supporters and maybe
due to their courage things are as they are today. One idea could have
been fighting for women's rights. This way when people like Mr.
Birling said women would have the right to vote, women would actually