Response to literature: AN INSPECTOR CALLS
John Boynton Priestly was born in Britain in 1894. He worked as a novelist and playwright, but he was also a political activist. Most of his plays, just like ‘An inspector calls’, have a very significant political content in which capitalism is criticized. He was interested in the idea of socialism, which defends a system without great differences between social casses. His greatest concerns were equality and fairness, and there are many references to these in ‘An inspector calls’.
He wrote the play in 1945, when World War II was ending, in a time of extreme fear and dread; and the first production took place in in 1946. However, the play is set in April 1912, just before the Titanic sank. This was a relatively happy time because, although there was a great tension between certain countries, World War I had not started yet. This way, Priestly is comparing a cheerful time in Britain with a really upsetting time when the country there was a depression after two World Wars and a worldwide economic crisis.
Basically, the story is about a visit paid to the Birling family. The couple, their son Eric and their daughter Sheila are celebrating Sheila’s engagement with Gerald Croft, who is also present. A man who claims to be a police inspector, Inspector Goole, comes in and says a young working-class woman, apparently with no relation whatsoever to the family, has comitted suicide. After interrogation, every member from the family (even Sheila’s fiancé) admits to have had a contact with the victim which may have contributed to her painful death.
In Act One, the family is presented as well-positioned and wealthy. They have a maid and live in a large suburban house, as seen in Priestly’s stage directions. Before any character spoke, we had an idea of the bourgeois situation of the Birlings. This suggests an idea of a comfortable family, money is not a worrying issue for them. They are presented as really secure,...
An Inspector Calls, by J.B Priestly. Heinnemann 1992.
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