An Inspector Calls 17
“ In act one of ‘An Inspector Calls’ how does J. B Priestley use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience as well as interest and involve them in his play? In this essay I am going to analyze the ways in which Priestly presents the theme of social responsibility, social class and social equality by looking at the use of character action and dramatic devices. The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was set in 1912, two years before the ww1 started.
It was a time in England when the inferior and lower classed were despised by the wealthier and superior classed. The play however was written in 1945 just after the Second World War, when society was improving a vast amount. By 1914 most British citizens regardless of their status were working together doing equal amounts of jobs to help win the war; this was an enormous change for the better. Priestly wanted to stress how only 2 years earlier the majority of the deprived were looked down upon as well as criticized, they were not given a fair chance in civilization.
This was reason why the play was set in 1912 and not in 1945, when it was written. He wanted to show how much society had changed from 1912 to 1945 that in those 33 years so much had differed and we had come this far there was only a little work to be done and Britain would be a country of equality. Priestly used the inspector to get his views across to everyone in a motivating and appealing approach, that made them to appreciate what they had in life and think about the less fortunate and also help them out.
J. B Priestley uses dramatic irony very early on in the play. Mr Birling suggests that, “The Germans don’t want war. ” As the audience we know this isn’t true, the Germans did want war and thats exactly what they got. This shows Birling to be an unintelligent gentleman, proved wrong in his ideas. This highlights the theme of social class. Further more it justifies the fact that the wealthier citizens considered them selfs more knowledgeable than the less fortunate.
This links back to the theme of social class because Birling assumes that just because he is wealthy, it means he is also clever enough to predict the future. The lighting at the start of the play is very significant as it changes dramatically when the inspector arrives, it is described in the stage directions. “ The lighting should be pink and intimate until the inspector arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder” The start of the play marks a celebration, happiness is in the atmosphere and the lighting being pink and intimate proves this.
However when the inspector arrives it changes to be brighter and harder as if to set a scene of interrogation. In act one a doorbell is used as a sound effect pronouncing the arrival of the inspector. “We hear the sharp ring of a doorbell Birling stops to listen. ” The doorbell abruptly interrupts the celebration leaving the Birlings to wonder who their visitor is. The introduction of the new uninvited visitor (the inspector) leaves the rest of the characters dumbfounded.
They want to know why an inspector is questioning them? At first they all honestly believe that they are innocent. “but I don’t understand why you should come here inspector. ” until each of them is being questioned deeper and they realize what they have done. By the end of the play when the story has unfolded Sheila, Eric and Gerald feel guilty although Gerald tries to deny it, while Birling and Sybil refuse to accept any responsibility for Eva’s death. The character exits are one method Priestley uses to further the plot.
For example, when Eric exists the room it leaves the audience suspicious, as they consider what part he has played in Eva’s death, And as the inspector has finished interrogating Mrs Birling and Eric appears again it is obvious what he has done. The end of act one leaves the audience itching to find out exactly what Gerald did to Eva and if Shelia stays with him. Plus whether the inspector is planning to question all the rest of the characters for taking part in making Eva commit suicide and also what caused Eva to want to end her life.
Throughout the play Priestley uses dramatic devices to engage the audiences attention. At the beginning of act one Priestley makes us think that the Birling family are a genuinely happy family with no problems or issues, but then then Sheila mentions that Gerald ‘never came near her’ last summer indicating that maybe they did not have such a perfect relationship after all and then the inspector arrives pronouncing the suicide of Eva smith and we discover that Birling put her out of a job while Sheila put her out of her next job.
Scene one ends when the audience find out Gerald also had something to do with Daisy Renton’s (Eva smith) suicide leaving the the audience to change their opinions on the Birling family from being ‘The perfect family’ to a troubled family. Priestly is able to change the audience’s mind about the Birling’s with out the audience knowing. This is one of reasons he is such a good author. Priestley is very talented at interesting and involving the audience in his plays he does this in various ways ,such as including real life events in them, like the Titanic and World War one.
Also he ends each scene at a crucial moment when the audience want to know what happens next. I think Priestley’s message was that everyone regardless of age, gender, race or class should be treated fairly, and the rich need to stop being so selfish and give more to the poor. Further more I think his message that no matter who you are you need to think carefully about the way you treat one another because if you treat some one wrongly it may or may not effect them right away but if not it may affect them in the long term. Priestley’s message is still relevant today because inequality and racism has been improved but still exists.