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J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls Essay

3393 words - 14 pages

J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

This play ‘An Inspector Calls,’ was written by J.B Priestly in 1945.
John Boynton Priestly was a socialist, he thought that whether or not
we understood that we live in a community, we have responsibility to
look after others and not see any difference between classes. To
portray his thoughts he wrote "An Inspector Calls" so that we would
understand there is no difference between the upper and lower class
and that we share the community. At the time the play was written
World War 2 had just finished and reconstruction was starting to take
place in Britain. The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was based around the
time of 1912, when Britain was portrayed as a mighty empire. At the
time when this play was set there was a big division between the rich
and the poor. The rich had a life of luxury and a better upbringing,
whereas the poor had to live in appalling conditions and fight for
survival. This play portrays a vital message that we should all live
in a world were we can help ‘we are responsible for each other,’ and
this is shown by an inspector investigating the suicide of a lower
class woman.

At the beginning of Act one, J.B Priestly has situated the family
around the table. Priestley uses this image to symbolize the family
united around the table. This shows the dramatic contrast because at
the beginning of the play the family is united but at the end of the
play they are all divided in class.

The Birling residence is described as a ‘fairly large suburban house,’
with ‘good solid furniture,’ creating the impression that the Birlings
are middle-class family. We are informed that the ‘general effect is
substantial and heavily comfortable but not cosy and homelike.’ The
furniture in the Birling’s living room can be described as very
aristocratic and this reflects the Birling’s lifestyle and suggests
that the Birlings home is not homely or warm. This un-homelike
atmosphere suggests to the audience that the members of the Birling
family do not share a close relationship with one another.

At the start of the play, the audience is introduced to the members of
the Birling family (including Gerald Croft) whom ‘are seated at the
table.’ The champagne glasses, evening dresses worn by the women and
the tails and white ties worn by the men imply that a celebration is
taking place. This celebration is taking place because Sheila Birling
is getting engaged to Gerald Croft.

Arthur Birling, ‘the prosperous manufacturer’ is portrayed as ‘a
heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly
easy manners but rather provincial in his speech.’ He is the first
character to speak as the play opens, ‘Giving us the port, Edna?’
Birling is perhaps speaking in commanding tone, creating the
impression that he is the dominant character and...

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