An Inspector Calls By J. B. Priestly

2087 words - 8 pages

An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestly

The play, ‘An Inspector calls’ was written by J.B Priestly in 1945.
The play is set in 1912 shortly before the First World War and the
voyage of the famous titanic, which sank after being hit by an
iceberg. Many ironic references are made concerning these events for
example Mr Birling describes the titanic as,

“The Titanic-she sails next week-forty six eight hundred tons-and
every luxury-and unsinkable absolutely unsinkable”.

The play was later performed in 1946 when many political and social
views were different throughout society due to the influences of the
Second World War. The short structure and easily studied context maybe
one of the many reasons why it is read in classrooms today, it has
various outlooks and focuses on modern day issues as well as post war
antics and beliefs.

Priestly observes the historical context of time, place, and action in
his structure, making the audience interested from the beginning, the
time span of the play in performance corresponds with the actual time
the events presented would take to unfold in real life. The Birlings
dining room is constant throughout; characters do leave from the scene
but nothing irrelevant takes place to distract the audience’s
attention. As it is short and has a clear formation it is accessible,
therefore it is easily understood making it enjoyable to watch. The
progressive revelation and their desire to find out who finally drove
Eva Smith to suicide sustain the audience’s interest.

The first act introduces the characters and establishes the idea of a
happy, close united family. In retrospect, there are a number of hints
that all is not as it seems but these are not obvious until later in
the play. This keeps the audiences attention. When Inspector Goole
enters the Birling household the atmosphere changes and the audience
is positioned to see the real side to each family member. The
Inspector intrudes on the Birling’s dinner party to inform them that a
girl has committed suicide. He begins to ask questions about the
relationship between the girl and each family member. Events soon
gather speed and it is not long before Mr Birling and Sheila’s
involvement with Eva smith becomes apparent. The tension increases
firstly when Gerald’s affair is unveiled. Sheila begins to realise
that they all must have something to do with the death of Eva Smith
also known as Daisy Renton who she reinvented herself to be before
meeting Gerald, when working as a prostitute,

“He is giving us rope-so we that we hang ourselves”.

Sheila says that the inspector is making them admit to their
involvement and so is making them feel guilty. There is a vast amount
of conflict in the play between family members,

“Yes-except for all last summer, when you never came near me, and I
wondered...

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