How Did Jb Priestley Use Drama and Didacticism in an Inspector Calls?

Topics: An Inspector Calls, J. B. Priestley, Time and the Conways Pages: 5 (1945 words) Published: January 13, 2012
An Inspector Calls is a play based in 1912, although it was written in 1946 by JB Priestley. Priestley was a deeply political writer with a strong favour for Communism. Communism is the political belief that there is no rich or poor and that everybody is equal, indeed Communists also believe that there should be a planned economy and no wages would be paid to the workers as this money would be used to fuel the infrastructure and the economy. When Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’, It was 1946 but the play was set in 1912 between these dates 2 world wars had happened, a attempted pan-European genocide of the Jewish race, a massive economic crash, War had been brought to a new level with wars now affecting civilians with the use of bombing on town and cities, and the introduction of nuclear weapons used to kill to thousands of innocent civilians. During this time Priestley had also witnessed multiple extreme governments emerge. When the play was set thing seemed to be improving, electricity was a new luxury for the rich and Britain was still riding the wave of power from the British Empire. Being rich then was no bad thing. JB Priestley uses ‘An Inspector Calls’ to mock the rich and capitalists by making them seem naive and foolish: by doing this he is being didactic which means he is persuasively preaching to the audience. Priestley believed that capitalism was a bad political system. His play shows how the rich don’t care for the poor and how capitalism is flawed. This highly didactic purpose however is combined with strong dramatic elements that make the ménage palatable. From the start, JB Priestley uses the setting at the beginning to create a rose tinted view of the life that the Birling household experiences, which all the characters find very normal. This idea is shown by the lighting instructions in the stage directions at the beginning of the play. ‘The lighting should be pink and intimate until the Inspector arrives then it should be brighter and harder’ this quote gives the impression that everything is quite literally fine and rose tinted until the Inspector arrives when things start to become more realistic almost as if the harsh light of day has been shed onto the Birlings little world when the Inspector unveils truths about Eva Smith and how people like The Birling’s make people’s lives like Eva Smiths so bad.’ The Pink and intimate’ light shows how unrealistic the life that the Birling’s live. The light gives the impression that there is no bad in the world and this is supported by the harmonious party in which two industrial rivals have finally joined in unison by the engagement of Shelia Birling and Gerald Croft. The Birlings are celebrating this and the advances in technology that surely can only improve the world that they live in. The Lighting also shows the change of mood in the play: when the play begins the mood is quite jovial as Shelia and Gerald are celebrating their engagement. They all have had a good meal and there is a general jolly atmosphere. Then things suddenly become more intense and severe with moods becoming darker as throughout the play the Inspector exposes The Birlings to more and more of the harsh realities of the real world.

Priestley may also use the change of light to the brighter and harder light to replicate the harsh halogen like light of a police interrogation room this demonstrates to the audience that the Inspector is interrogating the Birlings before the dialogue even begins. The change of light may also give the impression that the Inspector has opened the Birling’s Curtains mentally so that they can now see the outside world.

Finally the change of light may also show the change in clarity of thought in the play. The Birling’s outlook on life at first is very deluded since they only socialise with the higher tiers of society without mixing with the lower tiers of society except when he deals with his workers, despite Mr Birling coming, from a ‘provincial’ lower...
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