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An Inspector Calls Revision

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“An inspector calls communicates a message that is relevant only to the plays first audiences; it has no interest or relevance on a modern audience” What do you think of this statement?

An Inspector calls was written in 1945 in the setting of an Edwardian 1920’s Britain. In the same month that the atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, audiences were queuing anxiously for J. B Priestley’s latest creation.

An Inspector calls was hugely relevant to 1945 audiences, as it echoed their feeling of a desperate need for change. The Birling’s represent all that is wrong within society.
1945 audiences felt change was so important that Winston Churchill lost to Clement Atlee in what should have been a landslide victory. The Birling’s are an upper middle class family who are more concerned with public image and pretenses than their relationships to one another. Birling is a “hard headed business man” blinded by his ego and his politics – he thinks “a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and their own”. Sheila at first seems rather vacuous, and is learning to grow out of her giggly immature schoolgirl phase. Gerald is a dandy, an aristocrat enforcing the class system. Mrs. Birling is clearly an upper class woman who married for the money and although Eric gives the impression of being a little more down to earth than the rest, he still plays his part within such a selfish family. Each family member represents a different class or type of person within the 1920’s.

To an audience who had experienced the hardship of the war, the Birling’s would have seemed wasteful, overly luxurious and self absorbed in every aspect. The Birling’s also enforce the class divide, which the war had managed to break down. Eva Smith was a representation of the working class, and like the working class she paid the price. The Inspector tells Eric that he treated Eva Smith like “an animal, a thing, not a person”, echoing the unfairness that the working class experienced.

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