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J.B.Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls” is a well-made play that attacks the social mores of his time; it contains all the ingredients of a well-made play, this is because it is captivating, and it holds the attention of the audience. It achieves this by the use of climaxes, the slow unravelling of the plot and the use of the detective-whodunit style.
Despite this Priestley is concerned with the darker side of Capitalism. “An Inspector Calls” is Priestley’s call for reformation. Priestley sees the nation as a society with communal, rather than individual responsibilities. The members of the Birling family are only concerned with individual gain and profit over person. They are responsible for the young women’s death by treating her as property, and it is this lust for material wealth that Priestley speaks out against.
” An Inspector Calls” is a well-structured and well-made play because it contains many factors that captivate and sustain the attention of the audience.
One of the factors that makes the play captivating is the use of climax, the way it holds the audience all the way through, building up slowly, gathering the plot as it goes on and then finally ends in a stunning climax, for example the way the Inspector extracts small threads of information from the members of the family and slowly puts the picture together and narrows it down to the main culprit as the climax.
The whodunit genre keeps the audience guessing all the way through the play, and as clues are solved and stories are unfurled the culprit becomes clearer, but as soon as one thinks he or she knows who it is Priestley cleverly seems to switch to the inspecting of another character. This makes the audience engrossed in the action that is happening on-stage.
The mystical appearance of the Inspector when the Birlings are having a celebration party, and Mr Birling is giving a speech on how the modern man should live, then eerily the Inspector steps in as almost as he was instantaneously opposing the views of Mr Birling, this seems to bring up questions of the inspectors background and who he is, as even the local constabulary have never heard of him.
But “An Inspector Calls” is more than just a well-made play, it is a play that attack the social mores of the time. In the time of Priestley people only seemed to look after themselves, their time and attention was not spent on the community, but on themselves. There was hardly any communal spirit or common wealth “But the way that some of these cranks talk and writ now, you’d think everybody has to look after everybody else as if we’re all together like bees in a hive, community and all that nonsense”
The Inspector in the play is a mysterious man who comes and goes without a trace and seems to have no background. The Inspector is a channel for Priestley’s views and criticisms on the social mores of the time. The Inspector is a contrast to the Birlings as he seems to favour community responsibilities rather than individual ones. The Birlings represent the richer people in society that do not care for their fellow people in the nineteen tens, for example Mr Birling sacked the girl Eva Smith for striking for a higher salary, but the demand was minuscule. They are set so far away from the community that they did not even realise that Eva Smith had died, let alone how the helped to kill her, they find this out only when the Inspector brings it to their attention.
Even though “An Inspector Calls” is a very well-made play Priestley really tries to hit home the importance for care of your neighbour. Priestley was a socialist in his time, unlike most of the people around that time who were only interested in monopolising and individual gain. Priestley believed that everyone should either share their wealth or at least help the needier. He thought that the continuing monopolising of the system would be immorally wrong and selfish.
“And I tell you that the time will soon come when men will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.”
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