An Inspector Calls
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 the play?
‘An Inspector Calls’ is a thriller, written by J.B. Priestley in 1945 at the end of World War II but it was set in 1912 two years before World War I. Priestley was concerned about social conditions for working class people in Britain at the time he wrote the play and he wants his audience to realise that society has to care for the poor and unfortunate. He does this by making the Birling family represent well off middle class society and using Eva Smith to represent the poor and needy. At the end of World War II Priestley wanted to change poor people's lives for the better and chose to do this by writing ‘An Inspector Calls’, to improve public awareness especially among the middle classes.
Various dramatic devices are used to influence the audience, to show that Mr. and Mrs. Birling are not right in their views- that everybody does not have to look after each other. Dramatic irony is used to show that that they themselves are wrong too. Birling said “The Titanic, she sails next week … every luxury, and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable.” This allows the audience to see that Mr. Birling is not right with what he says and it makes Birling sound arrogant and naïve. Mr. Birling also talks about the community and how you should only look after yourself. “Community and all that nonsense …a man has to look after himself and his own” This is the opposite of the message of the play and Priestly shows this by introducing the inspector.
As the inspector enters the lighting changes form a pink and intimate scene to a hard, harsh lighting after the inspector is arrives. This represents an interrogation with the intense white bright light and it makes the audience notice a change of mood in the play. The happy environment is quickly changed to a more questioning and suspicious setting, the contrast of the comfortable condition of the lighting before the inspector enters to after the inspector arrived at the Birling’s home shows a change in mood and story in the play.
In addition, the ring of the doorbell also helps portray this change. It surprises the Birlings because it is not a part of their scheduled lives so they are automatically disturbed by it. This affects the audience in the sense that they want to see what is about to happen and it creates suspense. It also introduces a new character- Inspector Goole. This affects the mood and personality of the other characters; Mr. Birling instantly tries to show the inspector that he is the alpha with a high up status, “I was an alderman for years- and Lord Mayor two years ago”, he tries to show the inspector his authority by name dropping. However the inspector is not interested and this surprises Mr. Birling. He has another go of showing power over his children, “Nothing to do with you Sheila, now run along.” Though the inspector counteracts him and challenges his role of the dominant male in the house, by saying “No wait a minute Miss Birling”.
As the Inspector is turning into the more dominant and respectable male in the house, this immediately makes Mr. Birling very angry. Sheila, one of the youngest characters instantly respect the inspector because they don’t show any resistance against him in questioning. Unlike Mr. and Mrs. Birling they take up the message he is trying to put across and try to respect it, not just dismiss it out of principal. However they still all feel intimidated with a higher-powered figure in their household. Mr. Birling knows that the inspector has a higher status but he won’t accept it.
Many of the characters exit at certain points in the play to make it more interesting. Just as the inspector is about to question Gerald, he leaves so Sheila can explain to Gerald that the inspector is a powerful figure and will just break...
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