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Coursework - an Inspector Calls

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Coursework - an Inspector Calls

Coursework – An Inspector Calls

In act one of �An Inspector Calls’ how does Priestley use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience, as well as interest them and involve them in his play?

An Inspector calls was written in 1944, (first performed in 1945) and although he had the idea for the play before the Second World War, but he never had a chance to write it. After the victory of the Second World War, he was reminded and began work on the play based in 1912 pre-war Britain, a time of wealth and prosperity for the rich. The main idea Priestly wanted to convey in this play is that the seven deadly sins really are deadly; we take note of this because they have driven a young woman to suicide. The main perpetrators of the sins are from a rather well – to – do family, they commit lust, gluttony, wrath and various other sins through selfish acts, which eventually, when all coupled together; drive Eva Smith to commit suicide. The inspector is trying to teach the Birlings and Gerald how they have together, unsuspectingly collaborated to kill a person through selfish acts. He shocks and exposes everyone in-front of each other, as he teaches them the consequences of the moral evils they have committed.

It is important that the reader or audience understands how critical the dates are; for example the play is set in 1912, and Arthur says some very ironic things for example, how war is impossible and the titanic – unsinkable. The audience watching this in 1945 would be sour to this after having to fight for their lives through two wars, and knowing the most luxurious vessel of the period sunk. From his attitudes and statements they know exactly how wrong he was, and could devise he was a very blind, ignorant and foolish old man.

Due to the uniqueness of the play, it is difficult to say which genre this work does indeed belong to; however it contains the certain elements which mean it could be horror or mystery. When the inspector disappears from a secured room it makes you wonder if he is a magician, phantom or something else. Some say he is a representation of a spirit. If you look with care at the play you can see there are many lessons to be learned from it, not only about sinning, but about how people should be more careful about the way they treat humanity and how life is delicate and fragile, especially with people who have no-one to turn to for help. The play left a lasting impression on me and made me realise that in my lifetime, I must try to help people who are in dire positions if I am able to.

The inspector comes to the house after a small engagement celebration, when Sheila is becoming engaged to Gerald, the heir of a competing company - the evidence of this is where Arthur Birling says;

�…though crofts limited are both older and bigger than Birling and company – and now you’ve brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when crofts and Birling are no longer competing but are working together – for lower costs and higher prices.’ From this example very early in the play, it is already very clear that Arthur’s greed is great; it almost seems the engagement is designed just to bring the two companies together, rather then because of any relationship. Another effective device which draws the audience in is the use of dramatic irony very early on in the play; it seems to draw attention in a rather striking and effective manner, for example when Arthur describes how war is impossible, and his views on the Kaiser’s speeches it leaves a very bitter atmosphere with the audience as many of them would have fought in the �impossible’ wars.

In another instance of methods used to influence the audience is the way the lighting changes, this is critical as it will subconsciously affect the audience: It will change the mood and atmosphere significantly. This means the audience will feel differently, the pink light where the people are gathered and are relaxing, will make the audience feel secure, warm and calm. When the light suddenly changes to a hard inquisitive white glare, you can almost imagine the audience shifting in their seats. It also affects the mood and will make people feel uncomfortable, as if in fact they were part of the guilty conscience being examined; this could be the idea Priestley had to make people examine their conscious while watching the play, and think more about how their actions are bound to affect others. Overall the lighting is an extremely affective device that can be used to enhance the grip of the play and mood of the scene, if it is correctly used it is a very effective tool for playwrights and directors.

The doorbell is an effectively used sound effect as it cuts of Arthur Birlings �we look after our own’ speech.

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