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 ta...
ken 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 as
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
when he fired her made Eva a scapegoat. He didn't consider the bleak future she would face and treated her like a 2nd rate citizen. Mr Birling was acting like a typical capitalist boss.
He didn't care about the workers who worked for him, as they needed him 2 survive. He could literally pay them peanuts and they would still work for him.His only thought was to keep costs down. Mrs Birling is described as a 'cold' woman, born into a well off family. When Daisy Renton came to her asking for charity help posing as Mrs Birling, Mrs Birling refused her help saying her story was ludicrous. She did not believe her story that she was pregnant with Eric's child, that Eric had been stealing from the business and that's why she didn't accept money from the father.
Mrs Birling was Daisy Renton's last resort and Mrs Birling used her power to deny help to a homeless pregnant woman. Mrs Birling abused her power.In those times, it was inconceivable that a lower class citizen would be carrying the child of an upper class male. The coldness she displayed when denying Daisy the last hope she had is clearly seen. This is a dramatical effect and shows the audience just what the upper classes were like to everyone else.
Sheila is the daughter of the Birlings, and we presume, the only one. She is engaged to Gerald Croft. Her part in the death of Eva Smith was that when Sheila tried on a dress, she could see that Eva was laughing at her. This was because the dress didn't suit her and Sheila knew it would fit Eva better.Jealous, Sheila made sure that Eva got fired from her second job.
This one being the job she occupied after working for Mr Birling. Again we see how Sheila used her power as an upper-class citizen to get what she wanted. Eric is the son of the household and, during Mrs Birling's interrogation, it is aired that Eric is an alcoholic. It's because of this obsession for drink that Eric finds himself raping Daisy and consequently getting her pregnant. Unlike some of the other members of the family, Eric tries to be a good person and rectify his actions.Albeit he does this by stealing money from his father and giving it to the girl, who clocks what he's doing and refuses the money.
There are two things we can gage from this. One is that again someone in a higher class has abused their power. In-fact you could say that Eric overpowered Daisy. The other thing we can gage from this is that the lower classes have better morale standards than the higher classes.
The fact that Daisy didn't accept the money knowing that it was stolen is evidence of this. Gerald is engaged to Sheila and son of a very successful business owner who is in-fact a rival to the Birlings.When he and Sheila get engaged, Mr Birling sees it as a business merger 'to cut labour costs and for higher capital'. He had affair with Daisy Renton while at the
same time being attached to Sheila. At first he was helping her out. He first saw her at a bar frequently visited by prostitutes.
A man was harassing her so he helped her out and gave her a house to stay in. Over a period of time she became his mistress. Gerald didn't hurt the girl in any way. When he ended the relationship she was 'quite galley about it'.
All these characters came into contact with Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, and all in some way contributed to her death.The most underlying message here is the fact that all of the Birlings used their power in an unsuitable way over the lower class person. This is part of Priestly's message. He believes that everyone should be equal and he's showing the pitfalls of society through the Birlings. Eva Smith/Daisy Renton is not an active character, but she is a very important part of the play as all the events and questioning surround her death. During the play, the Inspector shows a picture of the girl to some of the cast.
We never see that picture, making us have to make up a picture of her in our mind.The name Eva is similar to Eve who was the first woman to be created on earth. Smith is a very common English name too. With this in mind, Eva Smith could represent all the women in her class and therefore she's used as a symbol of how the lower classes are treated. Another Dramatic effect. The setting is constant in the play.
This means that is does not change and there are only brief breaks in the play, such as curtain fall. This means that the play keeps rolling on and the suspense quickens and as there is no break, the pace of the play builds until the climax, which is the Inspector's final speech before he leaves.The setting is '... general effect of is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike.
.. are very pleased with themselves. ' While the family is comfortable nothing is assumed to be wrong. It is during this time though when Mr Birling makes numerous amounts of capitalist comments.
Touching on the bell that I mentioned earlier, it could also be a bell of frustration for Priestley. Like when a volcano erupts due to immense pressure. The setting is an effective dramatisation of his views because it shows them all comfortable, but as soon as the Inspector comes, they are uneasy and they quickly disunite.The lighting must also be touched upon. It starts off pink and intimate and when the Inspector comes it gets 'lighter and harder'.
In conclusion, Priestley uses many dramatical devices to air his socialist message. From having an Inspector who isn't a real inspector, to the question on the audience's lips: is he a real person at all? He also uses the set lighting to dramatise his views. Priestley did not write a book for just a warning for war in WW1 and 2. I believe his message should be heard in places like the Middle East.
Where is the togetherness and
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