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Priestley's Presentation Of The Inspector In An Inspector Calls

2030 words - 8 pages

Priestley's Presentation of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

To properly answer the question, we must firstly consider what society
was really like during the time that the play is based and then
compare it to the time it was preformed. During the early 1900's, if
you were rich, life was good. The British Empire was at its peak and
trade unions were not powerful enough to cause significant grief for
factory owners, such as Arthur Birling or Gerald Croft. A rich person
was pretty much untouchable. On the other hand, if you were poor, it
was very different. With very limited employment rights and no
organised state welfare, you were practically a slave to the owner of
the local factory. This kind of society is considered now, by most,
and back then by some, morally wrong. This society is shown through
Priestley's characters, which, it could be argued, should not be
looked at in isolation, but should be viewed as archetypes of society
at the time. By viewing the characters of the play in this way, we can
see what Priestley's political and social views of society were. The
way Priestley used stage directions and character entries and exits
throughout the play was very effective and somewhat crucial to the
effect his political message had.

The focal point of An Inspector Calls is the inspector and how he
presents Priestley's message and how the Birling household is affected
by it. The play itself is set in the Mr & Mrs .Birling comfortable
home. They are having a party to celebrate the marriage of the
daughter, Sheila, to Gerald Croft, the rich son of a successful
factory owner and Lord. During this party, a supposed inspector,
Goole, calls round to ask the members of the Birling family some
questions with regards to the suicide of Eva Smith. During his
investigation, the Inspector looks at, in turn, what each of the
members of the aforesaid family did to Eva Smith. This subsequently
allows him to dig deep into the rotten core of the Birling and Croft
households and thus expose iniquities in society at the time. As you
can see, the Inspector is also a vastly pivotal character. More
important, it could be said, than the inspector usually is in a
typical 'Who-Dunn it'.

In this 1st scene the inspectors character is the one who seems to
stand out from the other characters .The inspector is the only person
in the play who, at the start, actually thinks what has happened to Ms
Smith is morally wrong. His views are, to put it bluntly, leftwing. In
this way, we can see that the inspector is a conduit for an outpouring
of Priestly political views and philosophy. The Inspector shows this
clear disregard for financial power over the people of the country,
when he almost preaches this at the Birlings;

'Public men have responsibilities as well as privileges'

This shows Priestly is...

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