John Boyton priestly wrote the play ‘An inspector calls’ in 1945, but the actual story is set in 1912, two years before the world war. The reason for this is to show the events, which have already happened that the audience already have knowledge of, such as the sinking of the titanic and the outbreak of the war.John Boyton priestly was born in Bradford in 1894 and died in 1984.
He was a socialist who believed capitalism was foolish. Throughout this play, Priestly shows his hatred towards upper-class people. In those days which the play was set in, Britain was divided into class systems, the lower class being the poor ho worked in factories and had very little to earn in life with no way of going up a class, this is represented by Eva Smith in the play. The middle-class being the business owners and making profit, this is shown by the Birling family and the richest being the upper class portrayed by Gerald Croft.Priestly wanted to ensure life after the war was better than before and he hoped that through his writing he could influence peoples ideas and change society. Although he wrote ‘An inspector calls’ in 1945 he deliberately set it in 1912 because that time represented that sort of society everybody wanted to leave behind.
He was particularly concerned about the living conditions of lower classes. He believed that we should all help each other, which is the total opposite form, what the Birlings believed. He uses the inspector to symbolise the conscience of the nation and through him challenges each of the characters who represent a part of the society. He shows that change is mo...
re likely to come through the young generation (Sheila and Eric) rather than the older generation (Arthur and Sybil) or the upper classes symbolised by Gerald Croft.
‘An inspector calls’ is a play focusing on the respectable Birling family. ‘Inspector Goole’ interrupt an enjoyable engagement party between Sheila and Gerald. The inspector announces the horrific news that ” Two hours ago a young woman died in the infirmary. She’d been taken there because she’d swallowed a lot of disinfectant”The characters react in extremely different ways to this information.
We begin to discover hidden depths behind each characters superficial appearance as the play continues. We start to find out each characters involvement with Eva Smith’s horrific suicide as the inspector interrogates each of them, trying to make them feel guilty and responsible for her tragic death. During the play some characters show feelings of guilt and remorse whereas others simply dismiss the death completely.In Act 111 Birling says- ” He wasn’t a real inspector” and Sheila replies, ” Well he inspected us alright”.
My assignment is to discuss what effect did the inspector have on any three characters in the play.When Birling is relieved that the inspector “wasn’t a real inspector” Sheila points pout that the inspector “inspected us alright”. By this she means even though the inspector was a hoax, he made them confess their involvement in Eva smith’s death and become aware of their responsibilities. He made them feel guilt and
remorse.The inspector symbolises our conscience and the spirit of Eva in the play. He acts like an avenging angel punishing the sinful, irresponsible people who have cut short her life.
His name ‘Goole’ has a connotation to ‘ghoul’- a spirit preying on us. He is the vehicle through which priestly delivers his moral and practical arguments, not simply a mouthpiece, but a profound and powerful prescence. He wants the audience to examine their own political, motivations and persuasions, and how we all have a social responsibility towards each other.The inspector has many functions within the play; he acts as a storyteller, linking separate incidents into one coherent life story.
He behaves as a father confessor to each character, encouraging them to see their guilt for Eva’s suicide, and to repent. He does not forgive or punish. Each character must find the courage to judge themselves. He acts as a voice of conscience. He points out that social responsibilities become greater as privileges increase.
He plays the traditional role of a policeman discovering the truth, through careful questioning and piecing together evidence with shrew insight. However” inspector Goole’ is more than a function within the play. At a deeper level he is a symbol of the many things that Priestly wishes the audience to consider about their own lives, not just those of the characters of the play. From a very early stage in the play the inspector becomes a social commentator, philosopher, judge and jury.The first character I am going to look at within this play is Mr Birling.
Arthur Birling is a “hard headed business man”, who “is heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech”. He considers himself to have a very high status in society. He is a prosperous factory owner, a local magistrate an ex-lord mayor of brumley. Birling regards himself as being reasonable, but his first priority is to make money ” Its my duty to keep labour costs down” and therefore pays his employees no more than the going rate.His key characteristics are his complacency.
He is well off and he believes he always will be “we’re in for a time of steadily increasing prosperity”. This success, however, has been at the expense of others. He threw Eva out of her job for asking for a modest pay rise, and intends to work with Croft’s limited ” for lower costs and higher prices”, exploiting his power as a capitalist to profit at the expense of others.Mr Birling, feels that he always knows what is best and likes to be the centre of attention, for example when Sheila receives her engagement ring from Gerald, she is very excited about the whole situation, but Birling begins to draw attention to himself, by telling everyone about the Titanic, an how technology has advanced, so much, that he can be sure to dismiss the possibility of the Titanic sinking. At this point dramatic irony is used well in this play with Birlings illusions of the titanic and war.
The play was set before the war but published