What was JB Priestley’s intention in writing An inspector calls

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In this Essay I will be trying to point out J. B. Priestley’s intention in writing ‘An Inspector Calls’. I will also be showing how modern interpretations of the original, support his message o the audience. J. B. Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ in 1944 but it was first performed in 1945 in Moscow. It was performed in Moscow because the theatres in London were still closed because of the war. Priestley’s intention in writing the play is to get a message across. This message is in the Inspector’s final speech, it says, ‘We are members of one body, we are all responsible or each other’.

This message is telling us to look after each other, even if it is not a member of your family or a close friend. This message is stood out against the selfishness and arrogance of the Birling family. Each one of the Birling family influenced Eva Smith’s life in a bad way and each played a part in the forcing of Eva’s suicide. Each member of the Birling family is also selfish, self-centered and arrogant. Mr. Birling is a business man, a self-centered, arrogant, money grabbing business man.

He only cares about three things, they are; himself, his family and his business. He says, ‘… a man has to make his own way-has to look after himself- and his family too of course… ‘ This quote tells us that he only cares about himself and his family and doesn’t feel the need to even know that lower class people exist. Mr. Birling influenced Eva’s life by sacking her, leaving her out of a job with no money. He sacked her because she rebelled and acted as the ringleader during an employees strike.

I think he sacked her to use her as an example to others and warn them, if they do anything similar to what Eva did they will too be out of a job. Mr. Birling acts as a hard headed business man and as if he knows everything about the developing world, but does he? He comments on different aspects of the developing world, he is wrong on every comment he makes. He says, ‘ The world’s developing so fast that it’ll make war impossible’. He says this, although in 1939, world war 2 breaks out.

He then comments on the titanic, he says, ‘… he titanic- she sails next week- forty six thousand eight hundred tons… ‘ This quote shows that Mr. Birling pays particular attention to detailed facts and not opinions or reality. He then says this, ‘… New York in five days- and every luxury- and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’. He says this confidently, as if there is no possibility that anything could sink the ship. A couple of days into its voyage, it sinks. It is comments like these that show weaknesses in Birling’s knowledge of business. Sheila Birling is a spoilt daughter of Mr and Mrs. Birling.

She comes across to me as a stubborn character, se says, ‘I went to the manager of Milwards and told him that if hey didn’t get rid of the girl, I’d never go near the place again, and I’d get mother to close our account with them’ This shows to me that as Sheila is of a high status, she intends to abuse this power to get what she wants. In the quote, it says to me that she is obviously intent on getting the girl sacked and eventually does so. Gerald croft is recently marrying into the family through Sheila, and also has a hard headed business man as a father.

The main intention in writing ‘An Inspector Calls’ is the message I stated in the introduction. It is to encourage people to look out for each other, no matter what social class or the power that you hold, and not to abuse power if you have it. In the play, the Inspector acts as the voice or conscience of the audience and puts viewpoints across to the accused. The inspector is, in a way, attacking the upper class of Britain. E is telling the upper class to acknowledge lower class people and not just marginalize them from society.

The end of the play leaves on a cliff hanger and effectively leaves you to decide what you think would happen after hearing the points of view from each member of the family. You may decide you wish to see the Birling family pay the price for their crime or you may wish to see the Birling’s come down to reality and not push the lower classes aside. Whichever way you wish for it to go, the message is still the same. How do modern interpretations support his message to the audience?

Other than the original version, there are at least three other versions of ‘An Inspector Calls’. First of all , there is the 1950’s film version. In this version, the inspector is portrayed as being a ghost. This ghost is effectively in the film to haunt the Birling family because of the moral sins they have committed. This version of ‘An Inspector Calls’ is not a good interpretation of the original and does not provide a good support for Priestley’s message because it turns into a supernatural dramatisation rather than a moral film.

The next version of ‘An Inspector Calls’ is the televised play version, produced by the BBC. This version is similar to the original and produces no different interpretations of the original either. It let’s the audience decide the morals and the way in which the Birling’s should be dealt with. The most recent version to date would be the West End version. This version I produced by Stephen Daldry and is a modernised version using special FX.

First of the min special effects is the way in which the Birling’s house is on stilts to emphasise how higher in the class system they are than everyone around them. Edna, the maid is only allowed o be on the lower level of the house and not any higher due to her class. The Birling’s are living in an unreal, far from reality world. This is made clear by their house to show that they are far from reality. The inspector enters the stage through the audience to give the impression that he is going to be representing them during the events on the stage.

Rain is falling in the theatre and this represents tears, purifying and cleansing. The lighting is an essential part of the mood making. It is ‘pink’ and intimate as opposed to when the inspector comes in and then the lighting changes to a brighter, harder, more realistic mood. This play is very moral and teaches anyone about the importance of having equality and love between people of different classes, I think the inspector plays the most important part in the teaching of this lesson.

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