An Inspector Calls Review
- Pages: 8
- Word count: 1955
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J B Priestly’s “An Inspector Calls” is an important play as it highlights topics that are just as important now as then, in 1945. It’s reason for being written is still unfulfilled and problems are still unsolved. The characters are just as alive now as then and the plays theme of blame and responsibility is still important. The events of the 11th September are vivid reminders of our world responsibility and of what happens if you ignore “Eva Smith. ” Its carefully constructed structure and text keep the audience in constant suspense and always in the dark as to what is going to happen next.
The passage of ignorance to sudden knowledge then an instant later being faced by an unbreakable wall of mysteries keep the audiences’ attention unwavering. The inspector goes through each person’s involvement in Eva Smiths Death and by doing each one in turn he magnifies the tension felt by all in the theatre. By doing this he concentrates his attention on each person in turn and prolongs the tension. J B Priestly was a very political writer who had an effect on the way people thought then.
His political views were influenced by what happened to him and the world during his life. He fought in World War One and suffered and survived a gas and saw the horrors of war he became a pacifist after all he saw. His wife died young of cancer and gave him a very reflective view on life and death. He was an avid Socialist and was one of the “cranks… who think every one has to look after every one else” that Mr Birling didn’t like. P B Priestly wrote a lot of plays that promoted his political view and this one is no exception.
He set the play in spring 1912, this was quite a happy time like the calm before the storm the characters begin to talk about the future all their hopes and dreams and as the audience watch they know there is going to be a war and their dreams will never come to fruition. The Dramatic Irony helps the audiences to understand the characters. This book was written in a week after World War Two, which shows how strongly he felt about it, even after he finished his first draft he made very few changes.
To ensure that the play was good J B Priestly used 2 famous systems to write good plays, the first he used was the 3 unities, an ancient Greek method of writing plays, the 3 unities are time, it must happen in 24 hours, place, it must all happen in one place and of action, no action should be superfluous to the play the other system used was devised by a prolific French writer called Eugene Scribe. “The Well Made Play” was a set of criteria that was based on all the ways previous dramatists had used to keep the audience interested and involved in the play being enacted in front of them.
The first criteria is to create impressive exposition. It plays an important part in employing the audience’s attention. The plays exposition must contain information on what has happened before the opening scene, although the play should leave some mystery behind each of the characters so they can be explored more later on in the play. For example Sheila hints at Eric’s drinking. Characters’ character must also be shown.
For example Mr. Birling gives us a speech about his views and tells us that “a man only needs to mind his own business and look after himself and his own. These pieces of information we receive help us grow reactions towards the characters and to grow to like or dislike them. The exposition should tell us the themes of the play and to start to tell the story of what is going to happen. Entrances and Exits must be used well in the well made Play. In order to heighten suspense and tension entrances and exits must be perfectly timed to achieve the maximum dramatic effect. The first entrance in the play is undeniably one of the most instrumental in the play.
The first entrance in the play is that of the Inspector. He enters at an important time just as this picture of an idyllic rich family is complete and on the surface all looks right in their world. So as he enters and gives the audience of subtle sense of foreboding. And a few moments before Eric had a start when Mr. Birling cracked a joke about him not wanting scandal so the audiences sensed that something was wrong. Another factor in “The Well Made Play” was the obligatory scene; its purpose is to add drama and to create interest in the character.
The scene is a scene were a secret is revealed, this is used to keep the audience wrong footed and can change the direction of a play to increase the audiences attention. An obligatory scene in “An Inspector calls” is at the end of Act 1 when Gerald is made to talk about his affair by Sheila. The scene begins with Eric leading the Inspector out of the room so that Sheila and Gerald are left alone in the drawing room. Shelia already has a extremely strong suspision because as she says “you gave your self away as soon as you heard her other name.
She talks about “last spring and summer when you hardly came near me. ” All of Sheila’s almost prophetic speaking and with her hysterical laughter and he outburst of “why – you fool – he knows” has increased the audiences tension and suspense so when the Inspector enters the stage the crowds are really on the edge of their seats and then there is the Climatic Curtain. A climatic curtain is when a scene of intense tension or suspense is finished with the curtain dropping. This is used to prolong and intensify the crowd’s suspense.
The climatic curtain at the end of Act 1 is used just after Gerald’s revelation about his affair with Daisy Renton. The audience want to know all about Gerald’s affair with Daisy Renton and how Sheila is going to react once she has calmed down. And the last line of the previous Act was the Inspector saying “well” and this line carried a lot of weight because of all that had happened before so that with this one line the Inspector amplified all that had gone before it. Mistaken identity is a vital contribution to the well made Play and it adds another level of mystery to the play.
The first mistaken identity in the play is the play itself; the audience start off by thinking the play is a simple whodunit but end up with the realization that the play is a morality play. The most important mistaken identity in the play is that of the Inspector. He also acts all the way through as a narrator as he slowly unravels the mystery of Eva Smith. He enters the play as an Inspector but he starts to behave oddly as soon as he enters. This gives us our first clue that all is not right.
The first person to catch on is Shelia, because she is the young Generation is the first to learn her lesson. ” He makes judgements that a normal Inspector wouldn’t. And at the end he seems to change into a prophet with his speech on pain and anguish about the years ahead. After the Inspector leaves, Gerald returns and begins to question the inspectors authenticity after he talks to a Police constable on his journey outside. He also questions the photographs identity, being that they only saw one each it might not even of been the same girl in each one.
This seems to let them off the hook. This provides an ending to the audience but still unhappy because the family’s lees kind members have got away with it, so the play finishes with the twist at the end. The Donevment is the closing stages of the play and is when the play begins to unravel a lot of its secrets. In the end, in Greek Drama, all the characters and the audience have learnt something. The play enters this stage after the Inspector makes his prophetic speech about pain and anguish. In this Play there are two clear endings at two different points in the play.
There is the first one after the inspector leaves when all the Characters have been shocked and are terrified, but then after Gerald tells them about the inspector and the check at the hospital and police station the found out that it must have been a hoax, for J B Priestly it is not enough as some of the characters are yet to of learnt anything Mr and Mrs Burling are not relived that Eva is not dead, because for them she never existed and that they were all alright, this means that even after all the pain they have been through they still have not learnt, this ending as I have already said is not good enough for the audience as they want to see Mr. Mrs. Birling Punished the next ending is more conclusive in one way and much more open ended in another.
The next ending is the one in which is more in the style of J B Priestly, in the way that it plays around with time. In the other ending the Police phone them and say that a girl has died in the infirmary, and that an Inspector is coming round to see them. We only get one side of the conversation but the audience know what was going to happen by the look on Birling’s face. This is a much more dramatic ending as the audience are left with the question ‘what’s going to happen next’ so that even as they leave the theatre they are going to be thinking about the phone call at the end and about the messages the play sends out.
One of the messages sent out by the play is that the young learn, for example Sheila and Eric learn first and pretty soon after Gerald also learns but it is not until the end, when it is too late, does Mr. And Mrs Birling learn. So it sends out a message to the young people in the audience that you are our hope. This Play manages to hold onto the audience’s attention and fascination with an iron grip, which is matched only by the plays morality. The Play forces the audience to deal with some large ethical problems, it forces them to realize that we all have to deal with the worlds problems and that we cannot merely pass the buck onto some body else. We all have to deal with everybody’s problems.
The audience will build up some feeling towards some of the characters in the play and they will feel as though some of them deserve to go through it again, although they will most likely feel as though at least Sheila and Eric, perhaps even Gerald, don’t deserve to go through it again. J B Priestly did not write this play to entertain people, even though 50 years on it still does, he wrote it to teach people a message, and it does, he wrote it to tell them about responsibilities and about making the world a better place.
In 1946 these messages where new, the Labour party had won an election and everybody was looking forward and thinking ‘we can make a difference,’ this play teaches that they can only make a difference if you take responsibility. There is a large theme of responsibility running through the play and of doing the right thing.