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An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

1625 words - 7 pages

An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

Consider how J.B Priestley combines dramatic effectiveness with
political comment in 'An Inspector Calls.'

An Inspector Calls can be described as a carefully constructed play as
the author, J.B Priestley, cleverly combines dramatic effectiveness
with strong political comment to create an entertaining play based on
morals and ethics to make the audience think about the issues
contained within the play. I believe that Priestley intended to change
the perception of his audience's opinions of society, and so by
writing this play, he achieved these aims.

An Inspector Calls was written in the mid 1940's, although the actual
story is set in 1912. It deals with one major political issue in
particular and that is the immense contrast to the lives led by the
rich as opposed to the lives led by the poor. The arguments for and
against a socialist system are a great feature of the play. J.B
Priestley, if we can judge him from 'An Inspector Calls', was a
socialist. He believed that whether or not we acknowledged it, we all
live together in a community and have a responsibility to look out for
each other. Being a well-known essayist at the time, he wrote essays
as well as plays to highlight these beliefs and also to share them
with the rest of the world. We know, as is stated in the introductory
passage to the Heinemann edition of the play, that Priestley was
significantly influenced by his father and his circle of socialist
friends' "hot arguments" and their broad minded political discussions
and debates. Priestley describes himself as "politically minded" and
these views were to have a great impact in some of his later works.

The play is well structured in that it observes the classical unities
of time, action and place. The time it takes for the events to unravel
on stage is the same time it would take the same events to occur in
real-life time. The place and action have been restricted to the same
scene and storyline throughout the play. In doing this, Priestley
hopes to prevent the audiences' attention from straying from the plot
of the play. In addition to this, by only having a small cast of
characters the audience can understand them more fully and explore
each of their individual personality's further. The 'whodunit'
formula, popular at the time, is also adopted within the play. This
keeps the audience guessing as to who is to ultimately blame for the
eventual demise of the victim, Eva Smith. The stock ingredients of a
typical detective thriller are also present. These consist of the
following: A victim, A group of suspects who somehow relate to the
victim and also a police detective/inspector who is sent to question
the suspects. Guilt is slowly established amongst the characters as
they gradually realise that each of them has played a part...

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