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J.B Priestley’s Use Of Language, Character, And Setting For Dramatic Effect In An Inspector Calls

5319 words - 21 pages

J.B Priestley’s Use of Language, Character, and Setting for Dramatic Effect in An Inspector Calls

This essay shall examine the way in which J.B. Priestley creates
dramatic effect in his 1945 play – ‘An Inspector Calls’. The play is
centred on an Inspector who gatecrashes the Birling’s engagement party
to their daughter Sheila and her Fiancé Gerald croft, by announcing
that earlier in the day a girl called Eva Smith, also known as Daisy
Renton, committed suicide by drinking a bottle of disinfectant. The
Inspector slowly makes his way around each of the Birling’s and Gerald
and asks them a series of questions, which results in the characters
being convinced that they are to blame for her death.

In this essay I will analyse the period and context of when the play
was written, analyse the language used as well as the use of
characters, the setting and the genre of the play.

‘An Inspector Calls’ was written in 1945, but set one week before the
Titanic set sail in 1912 – the late Edwardian Era. I feel that this
was done deliberately because J.B. Priestley may have intended to
convey his optimism about World War One and how he thought a World War
wouldn’t begin. After World War Two, I feel it was appropriate to
release ‘An Inspector Calls’ as a simple morality play of which the
morals could be ‘not everything is what it seems’ and ‘you never know
what is going to happen’. I feel this is due to dramatic irony as
from the curtain opening there are many references towards disasters
throughout history like the Titanic sinking in the middle of the
Atlantic Ocean, after crashing into an Iceberg. Priestley conveys his
optimism here as Mr. Birling says; “the Titanic – she sails next
week”. Another reason I feel that the play was an effective release
at the time was due to the distinctions between the upper and lower
classes within society.

In 1912, there were strong divisions between the upper and lower
classes, but after World War One, and World War Two, the Holocaust,
the Titanic sinking, and the Atom bomb, there was a great want for
social change between the upper and lower classes, and for the country
to stick together united, in the event of another national or
international disaster occurring.

As the social reform had taken place, the effect on the audience was
likely to be huge, and would make both the upper and the lower class
audiences realise just how bad the upper class treated the lower class
during the pre-war period. Throughout the play, it is intended that
the upper class audience should perceive that they took great
advantage of the lower class population of Britain. I therefore feel
that one of J.B. Priestley’s intentions for writing the play was to
convey how the lower class were treated before the first World War,
and he does this by portraying Eva Smith as...

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