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A Person That Believed In Social Responsibility

4069 words - 17 pages

Preistley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ for many reasons. He was classed as a socialist, a person that believed in social responsibility, that everyone should look out for one another, in a world that was still in turmoil and chaos from the recent world wars. Priestley experienced world war one and world war two. He unfortunately lost many friends and saw terrible things, things that he believed could have been avoided if there was a smaller gap between the classes. He wrote the play in an attempt to warn the world that a lack of social responsibility could have dire consequences. This is pointed out later in the play when the inspector rants about all of the John and Eva Smiths, and how if the ...view middle of the document...

The setting of the play is conveyed through stage directions at the opening of the script, Priestley has employed a wide variety of dramatic techniques and other options that are available to playwrights when the piece was written to be performed such as the lighting, the stage, and sound effects to name but a few.

The play is set in 1912 Britain, and the scene opens with stage directions used to set the scene, whilst also to depict a scene of both wealth and power, but also to suggest some of the relationships between characters.

The Birlings live in a ‘fairly large suburban home’ which illustrates the fact that whilst the Birlings are a family of wealth and power, they still do not believe they have enough, and their greed controls them as characters, showing they will always want more than they have. The oxymoron ‘heavily comfortable’ which describes the Birlings furniture is used to highlight the fact that the ‘good solid furniture’ is out of place and not at all ‘cosy and homelike’. The use of these contrasts show the Birlings have exhausted too much effort upon their home, achieving the opposite effect to which they intended, and making the home appear strained and un-natural. This above all else would increase the tension of such a place, making visitors and family members alike feel out of place and uncomfortable.

The Birlings own a ‘telephone’ which during the period was both fashionable and expensive, because of the appearance of wealth that would accompany such an object, the Birlings have allowed it the pride of place on a ‘small table’, set apart from the rest of the furniture to draw attention to it. All participents of this social gathering are ’in evening dress of the period’ and all men are described as wearing ‘tails and white ties’. A ‘decanter of port’, ‘port glasses’, ‘cigarettes’ and a ‘cigar box’ are brought into the room by the parlour maid Edna. The inclusion of such seemingly trivial items was purposeful, as Priestley intended to show the wealth of the family. Only the middle to upper classes would be able to afford such fashionable items, and the display of wealth in the parlour maid truly tips the balance to show the family can afford to be waited upon hand and foot.

Overall the settings are used to create an impression of power and class, as it is obviously an upper class family that would live in such a setting. The dining room has been described in such a way that it appears to be a warm, comfortable area enjoyed by all the family, but Priestley has charged his use of language to reflect that the reality of the situation is the family feels uncomfortable and the relationships are strained. A easily recognisable setting which perfectly describes the relationship between Mr and Mrs Birling, is that ‘Mr Birling is sat at one end, his wife at the other’ This shows the distance and coldness in their relationship.

Throught the duration of the play, the only area shown is the dining room....

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