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J.B. Priestley's Use Of Dramatic Devices To Convey His Concerns And Ideas In An Inspector Calls

1123 words - 4 pages

J.B. Priestley's Use of Dramatic Devices to Convey His Concerns and Ideas in An Inspector Calls

John Boynton Priestly was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He left school at
16 in order to gain life experience and joined the army at the
outbreak of world war one. During his time in the army, he witnessed
much suffering. This heavily influenced his writing to question the
morals and responsibilities of society, which is a main theme in ‘An
Inspector Calls’.

Priestly’s main concerns at the time of writing ‘An Inspector Calls’
was the state of society and social inequality- there was a huge gap
between the rich and the poor. Priestly was also a socialist
(politically left wing) and most of the characters who Priestly is
trying to convey to the audience as bad people are capitalist
(politically right wing). This makes it even easier for him to put
across his ideas as he can give the characters very stereotypical
personalities.

The story opens up with the arrival of Inspector Goole and when he
starts asking the characters questions. However, he is much more than
just an inspector. Priestly uses him to reveal the moral conscience of
the characters and the responsibilities that they have.

The play was first performed in 1945, but it is set in 1912. Priestly
has done this for a reason. It is important that he has done this as
it allows him to use dramatic irony. This is where he can use
something in his play which the audience will know about but the
characters wont. For example, “the Titanic - she sails next week
absolutely unsinkable”. the audience already know that the Titanic
sank, but the characters don’t. This allows Priestly to make the
characters look more ridiculous .

‘An Inspector Calls’ belongs to the genre of crime plays. However, it
also bares resemblance to the older kind of morality plays. The
morality plays first originated in the 15-16th century and in these
plays the characters represented moral attributes in a personified
form. The main character- or protagonist (in this case, Inspector
Goole)- makes the characters choose between something, usually good or
evil.

Priestly uses dramatic irony very early on in the play. One such
example of this has already been mentioned, “the Titanic - she sails
next week absolutely unsinkable”. As Priestly wants Mr Birling to seem
absurd he makes him say things which he knows will have that desired
effect on the audience. Another such example is where he says, “I say
there isn’t a chance of war”. this has the same effect on the audience
as in the other case.

As ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a play, the stage lighting is also very
important when studying dramatic devices. At the beginning of the play
the stage directions state that, “the lighting should be...

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