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How Does J.B Priestley Use Dramatic Devices In An Inspector Calls?

2466 words - 10 pages

Coursework How does J.B Priestley use dramatic devices in An Inspector
Calls to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience
as well as interest and involve them in his play? 23rd, February 2005

The main theme of “An Inspector Calls” is responsibility. J.B
Priestley wants to show the Birlings’ and the audience that we all
share responsibility for other people’s welfare, and that wealthy
people have obligations to look after those less fortunate than
themselves. Priestley uses Inspector Goole to put across his views on
society by portraying himself as a character. Through Inspector Goole
Priestley is able to emphasize that with privileges come
responsibilities to help others.

In the 1930’s Priestley’s main concern was the social inequality in
Britain. Priestly set up The Commonwealth Party in 1942. Their main
arguments were public land ownership, greater democracy, and a new
"morality" in politics. In 1945 Priestley’s party joined the labour
party. Priestley was particularly influential in developing the idea
of the Welfare State, this finally took place at the end of World War
Two.

The play is set in 1912 but was written and performed in 1945. This is
significant as it allows J.B Priestley to make Mr. Birling seem even
more ridiculous and naïve. For example, he mentions how there is not
going to be a war, however by 1945 when the play was first performed
the audience know that there were two wars between 1914 and 1945,
World War One and World War Two, which began in 1939. Mr. Birling also
mentions how the ship Titanic will not sink, ‘unsinkable, absolutely
unsinkable’. Again in 1945 the audience know that Titanic did sink,
consequently the things that Mr. Birling says, the audience know, in
hindsight, to be false. This tells the audience that Mr. Birling is
naïve, and slightly arrogant.

Dramatic irony is also used here. Dramatic irony allows the audience
to know something crucial that is not known by the characters on
stage, it also allows the audience to become more involved within the
play. In this part of the play the audience know that what Mr. Birling
is saying is wrong. Priestley uses dramatic irony very early on and
throughout the play; as a result of this and when the play is set, the
audience will always be one step ahead of the characters. It is
essential to acknowledge that the first audiences to see ‘An Inspector
Calls’ were viewing it right after World War II. Therefore the
audience have been without the luxuries that the Birling’s hold, due
to the rationing of World War Two. Priestley uses dramatic irony to
communicate his concerns and ideas to the audience. In the beginning
of the play he conveys his key idea that not everyone has luxuries.
Priestley also communicates here that predictions can be wrong and
that we should never assume anything.

A great deal changed between 1912 and 1945. In 1912 there were very
strong distinctions between upper and lower...

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