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Dramatic Devices In An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

2580 words - 10 pages

Dramatic Devices in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

In 1945 J. B Priestly, a playwright and the author of ‘An inspector
calls’, a mystery set in 1912, set out to forward his message;
Societies need for change. Through his play he uses a number of
characters to represent the class structure of 1912, in which he wants
the audience to compare their lives of 1945 and after 2 world wars, to
before them. Priestly was a strong believer in socialism, a world with
no defiant classes and a society that stood up for each other and took
responsibility for their own actions. His idea was, due to the forever
widening gap between the classes, people are going to suffer as the
higher classes gained more power and took less responsibility for
their actions.

To get across his point he uses a specific character called ‘Inspector
Goole’. Priestly uses this character to point his finger at the way
the Birling’s are and in doing so is pointing his finger at society
it’s self. He shows the Birling’s that they have all done something to
provoke the death of the girl and must start to take responsibility
for their actions. In doing this, by using the death of the girl,
Priestly proves to the audience that the gap between the classes must
be narrowed and that they must take responsibility for their own
actions, after all, no man is an island. Mr. Birling, the island,
tries to cut himself off from the fact that he himself started the
downhill slope that lead to the girl’s death. The same applies to all
the other characters, with the exception of Sheila, who was the only
member of the family to admit to the fact she did wrong and is willing
to take responsibility.

Throughout the play, Priestly uses many devices that add to the
mystery and intensity of the play and keep the audience on the edge of
their seats. It is important he does so because should the audience
loose interest then his point will not be listened to. The first
device that comes to the audience’s attention is the dramatic irony.
Mr. Birling’s speech is the first piece to come up. He talks of the
‘Titanic … unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’ but the audience will
know, with being in the 20th century that the Titanic did sink and
will find this ironic. But then he follows up by saying ‘The Germans
don’t want war … Silly little war scares … there’ll be peace and
prosperity’. Once again the audience will find this ironic. Just
before the inspector walks in he says to Eric, ‘But by the way some of
these cranks talk and write now, you’d think everybody had to look
after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in
a hive – community and all that nonsense’. In this quote he is
referring to the up rise of socialist ideas and believes them to be
‘nonsense’.

Slightly later on, Gerald light-heartedly speculates...

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