J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls Essay

2206 words - 9 pages

J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls was written by JB Priestley and is set in 1912 but
it was written in 1945. The author uses historic knowledge to his
advantage. At the beginning of the play, Birling gives a speech which
is extremely ironic 'I say there isn't a chance of war. . . the
Titanic- she sails next week- New York in five days- and every luxury-
and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable' The subsequent outcomes
relating to these issues are the complete opposite. World War one is
about to erupt and the Second World War was close to follow. Birling
stresses that the boat is unsinkable but the audience are aware that
this is untrue. This shows the audience, right from the beginning,
that Birling is a very ironic character and that he thinks himself a
powerful figure in his family.

This scene is very important because it is where the characters find
out that Inspector Goole is a fake. Their reaction to this information
what they have really learnt through this incident and whether the
characters have developed.

Mr and Mrs Birling seem relieved and overjoyed when they find out the
truth and appear happy that their reputations are no longer at stake.
Sheila and her brother Eric feel remorse for what they did to the girl
and are disgusted in their parents for dismissing the situation so
quickly. Gerald does not share his opinion as much as the other
characters but he agrees with Birling several times. You can see a
distinct generational difference between the characters and this
tension remains throughout the scene.

I am going to start directing at the point where the characters are
all sitting around the table. Sheila is talking, so everyone is
watching her. Eric slouches a little because he is feeling terrible
and does not care about petty things like his posture. Mr and Mrs
Birling are sitting bolt up right because they both feel they have not
done anything wrong and are still aware of how others see them.

When Mrs Birling exclaims 'Don't be childish Sheila.' on page 59, she
should direct it at Sheila, but glance at her husband to show that
they share the same opinion and that they both think that their
daughters' last comment was absurd. Sheila's reply should be said in a
defensive manner and her fathers reaction is to tell her to leave the
room if she talks like that. This shows that Birling thinks he is the
most powerful figure in the room. At the beginning of the play, the
other characters would have agreed, but now his children have lost all
respect for him. As director I would portray this by Eric saying his
line in a sarcastic tone 'That'll be terrible for her, won't it?' and
Sheila would say her line in a dismissive way.

Sheila goes on to say that it does not matter who made each of them
confess and then states what everyone did. When...

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