Socialist and Capitalist Political Views

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In this essay I will be exploring the ways in which JB Priestly presents and develops the tensions in Brumley in ‘An Inspector Calls’. I will be looking at a range of tensions including class, intergeneration, male vs. female and also dramatic techniques used by JB Priestly. An Inspector Calls was written after the Second World War. It is set in the spring of 1912 at the Brumley home of the Birling’s. In the play the central theme is responsibility. Priestley is interested in our personal responsibility for our own actions and our collective responsibility to society. Society was split into three classes at the time: Working class, Middle class and Upper class. The middle and upper class thought that the future looked pleasing and they were enjoying life. For working class women, a job was crucial, there was no social security at that time, so without a job they had no money. Women were not yet valued by society and had also not yet been awarded the right to vote. By setting the play in this period before the war but writing it after creates tension and irony throughout as the audience know what is to come. The question of the play is whether Eva Smith’s fate was mainly a result of the kind of society that existed in 1912 or simply a result of unchanging human nature. The play unfolds by the mysterious Inspector Goole slowly exposing how each character plays a role in death of Eva Smith It begins with the Inspector's entrance bringing a socialist message, interrupting the character who was speaking prior to his arrival, Arthur Birling, a capitalist who had been preaching the value of capitalist views such as "a man has to make his own way-has to look after himself’’ (pg9). However the events of the play show this to be unworkable. In fact the bell rings when Birling is in mid-sentence. It appears the Inspector deliberately timed his entrance to make it even clearer where his message is aimed. Drama is created because the Inspector on the other hand, believes that "we are members of one body. we are responsible for each other" pg 56) and had therefore come to the house to teach the Birling’s and Gerald a lesson on how capitalists mistreated the working class .The underlying message for this has caused tension; a socialist is interrupting a capitalist. Priestley has created drama by using the sound of the doorbell to create tension between two opposing political views. The timing of entrances and exits is crucial. The setting and lighting are very important. Priestley describes the scene in detail at the opening of Act 1, so that the audience has the immediate impression of a "heavily comfortable house.’’ Priestley says that the lighting should be "pink and intimate until the inspector arrives and then it should be brighter and harder’’. The lighting reflects the mood of the play hinting something is going to happen. Throughout the play there are subtle hints that is not all as it seems. This arouses interest in the audience. Birling still being a magistrate him and Gerald joke about the Inspectors visit shown in (pg 10) ‘’I’m still on the bench it may be something about a warrant’’ Eric does not share the joke and says ‘’well I don’t think it’s very funny’’ (pg10) hinting he may have something to conceal. The only physical evidence of Eva is the photograph which provoked great reactions, especially from Sheila. When the Inspector "produces the photograph" to her she "looks at it closely, recognises it with a little cry, gives a half stifled sob and then runs out"(pg21), this clearly states she has taken part in Eva's suicide story. The audience here reaches a turning point where now the "excitable and happy about life" Sheila is the reason Eva lost her job at Millward’s. The photograph gives Priestley an opportunity to present emotions that accompany the characters reactions to the photograph in detail creating drama and tension. The photograph is a recurrent dramatic device because instead of the Inspector showing the...
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