Priestley is extremely effective when dramatising his socialist views, such as the one above, in the novel ‘An Inspector calls’. I see this play as a machine, and in this machine there are different parts to it, which make up the whole play.
For example the inspector, the main character in the play, would be the main cog. It is around him with which everything in the play turns. Then there is the Birling family. Every single member of this family, including Gerald Croft who recently engaged to the daughter Sheila, has a part in the death of the girl. This girl, Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, is a spiritual character.
Although we do not see her in the play, she is a crucial part of the play. Then there are those dramatical devices that Priestley uses that are very small but still exceedingly important to the machine that I touched on earlier. The setting in the play is constant. There are no scene changes and the play runs on without interruption. Then there is the mood of the family at the beginning of the play. I will go into detail on all of these points at some point in the essay.
In ‘An Inspector calls’ Priestley uses the Inspector as his voice spread his view of socialism.Birling: Rubbish! If you don’t come down sharply on some of these people, they’d soon be asking for the earth. Inspector: They might. But after all it’s better to ask for the earth than to take it.
What the above extract is implying is that the upper-classes...
have taken control of the factories and production, making them the bosses of the lower-classes. Put more simply, The upper-classes have taken control of everything, leaving everyone else with nothing. With what rights did they have to do these things? None. They simply did it because they had the power to do so.Priestley believes that the workers should be in control of production and the factories, therefore making it an equal world for everyone. When the Inspector arrives, the play seems a straightforward detective thriller.
A police inspector has come to get evidence for the suicide of Eva Smith. But as the play goes on and more is said and revealed this theory is blown out of the window. It goes into a ‘whodunit’ play, where the audience is on tenterhooks as the Inspector gathers more evidence and each member of the family is revealed to be somehow responsible for the death of the young lady.There are signs though that the Inspector isn’t a real one, before all is revealed at the end. Birling: ..
. community and all that nonsense… a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own-and- We hear the sharp ring of a front door bell..
. This doorbell is more than a signal for the Inspectors arrival. The sheer timing of it is a symbol of Priestley’s intent to give a sort of air to the Inspector. This is because he has entered right at the time when Birling is portraying typical capitalist views.The doorbell could also be seen a
a wake up alarm bell for society.
Warning that these ideas are wrong and should not be followed, which is another reason why it has cut in. These are very subtle effects but extremely effective in dramatising his socialist views. Another point at which we could draw that he’s not a real Inspector is towards the end. He is obviously in a great hurry because he stresses ‘I haven’t much time’. Does he know that the real inspector is shortly going to arrive? At the bottom of page 56, the Inspector makes his final speech.This is the most important speech of the play as not only is he directing it towards the Birlings, but towards the audience and society as a whole.
Not only does it aim to strike guilt and fear into the heart of any audience, but it’s also uses dramatic irony. Inspector: And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men do not learn that lesson, they will be taught it in fire blood and anguish. ‘Fire, blood, and anguish’ is of course war. The play is set in 1912 and this is before the First World War started (1914).
Priestley is saying that if people carry on acting as they are, looking out for themselves, then war will break out. The Birlings don’t know this. But the audience knows full well what the consequences are. In-fact, dramatic irony is used frequently during the play. One example is when Birling makes a big speech on page 6. ‘Just because the miner came on strike, there’s a lot of wild talk about labour trouble in the near future.
Don’t worry, we’re passed the worst of it… we’re in for a time of steadily increasing prosperity.
‘The quote is dramatic irony because ‘increasing prosperity’ was what America was having in the 1920’s. That is of course until, due to a number of circumstances, the Wall Street crash happened, throwing America, and subsequently the world into depression. Dramatic irony is a very effective way of dramatising his socialist message because it give the audience some idea of how blind to the consequences of their actions they can be. Hearing the Birlings comments, they can almost remember themselves acting exactly the same and this will help them to put things right.Priestley uses the characters as dramatic tools because they are the image of the higher-class society, falling from their perch, all through their own spiteful and greedy actions.
Mr Birling is a well off Businessman who has firm capitalist views and, in the play, is used almost as the capitalist fool who predicts a wonderful world of increased capital. His comments are used, along with dramatic irony, to make the audience realise the wrongs of the upper class. At the factory he owns there was a strike amongst the workers for a better wage.Mr Birling saw it as his ‘duty to keep labour costs down’ and as Eva Smith, as Mr Birling knew her, was one of the ringleaders, he fired her.
A symbol of the upper-classes, oppressing the poor. Mr Birling who gave no remorse to her