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Dramatic Devices Involving The Audience In J. B. Priestley’s Play, ‘An Inspector Calls'

611 words - 2 pages

John Boynton Priestley’s play, ‘An Inspector Calls’, fits into the genre of drama and detective and is also a morality play. It uses many dramatic devices such as the language he uses, the symbolism used in the play, and the stage directions. Using these, Priestley aims to subtly, or less subtly in some instances, (such as Birling’s Titanic speech) win over the audience’s favour. One example is the way he plays on the two characters of Inspector Goole and Birling, the Capitalist, to make Birling appear as the antagonist or ‘bad guy’ as a result. In December 1946 President Truman signed Declaration 2714, officially ending hostilities in World War II. The first Broadway production of the play was at the Booth Theatre on 21 October 1947, a little less than a year after the declaration. After the calamity of the war, the world was recuperating economically and socially. At this time, dramas or tragedies such as ‘An Inspector Calls’ became more popular, due to the nature of the conflict and how it had affected everyone - this was one of Priestley’s, (and the Socialists of the time) messages. Priestley himself had served in the war, and was discharged after narrowly avoiding an enemy shell attack. Having witnessed the shock of war himself, perhaps he felt it was his duty as a Socialist to prevent this from happening after the war. In the Inspector’s speech, he mentions that people must learn to cooperate peacefully or they “will be taught in fire and blood and anguish”. This is likely referring to the war. “Fire” could clearly represent gunfire or the shells, “blood and anguish” meaning the sight and thought of fellow men being killed. The Inspector’s speech is often full of emotive and soulful language, as if he had been there himself to witness it. As Priestley’s mouthpiece, it provides many...

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