In Act One of ‘An Inspector Calls’ how does J. B. Priestly use devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience, as well as interest and involve them in his play? JB Priestly uses several dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience in ‘An Inspector Calls’. These dramatic devices include dramatic irony, scene and stage directions, entrances and exits of characters and ending of acts. Also, reasons created by the inspector challenging the Birlings and Gerald.
‘An Inspector Calls’ is mainly a domestic drama however it should also be mentioned that the play is often shown as a comedy and tragedy. Written by J. B. Priestly, ‘An Inspector Calls’ was first preformed in 1945 but is set in 1912. The play conveys a strong political message of socialism. The play starts with a family dinner at Arthur Birlings house celebrating his daughter’s, Sheila, engagement to Gerald Croft. Later in the night an inspector arrives and reveals that a girl, which every single person in the room, at some point their lives had some sort of association with, had committed suicide.
The inspector then reveals to each person in the room how they caused the death of Eva Smith. J. B. Priestly was a man who deeply believed in the ideas of socialism and through his play ‘An Inspector Calls’ and other his concerns were to try and persuade other people into becoming socialists. The play was written at the time when Labour was in power and socialism seemed like the future. Priestly used the play to change some people’s way of thinking and his aim was probably to teach the unconvinced.
An example of where Priestly uses the idea of social responsibility is in act 3 where the inspector tries to teach the Birlings this idea. “We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ” Here the inspector responds to Mr. Birling, after Mr Birling said that although in the past he refused to give Eva Smith 25 shillings a week, now he is willing to pay thousands.
The inspector explains that a person cannot use his money to cover up his actions, and that everyone is responsible for each other. The inspector tries to teach the Birlings that they are not superior to everyone else and that even though that they are of a higher standard doesn’t mean that they don’t have to take responsibilities for their actions. The Inspector’s character in the play is portrayed as very mysterious, because Priestly doesn’t reveal much about him. He is shown as a provoking character who tries to teach the Birlings that they are not superior to everyone else.
Every time he confronts someone, whether it was a Birling or Gerald Croft he managed to get them to tell him and everyone else what connection that person had with Eva Smith. However, that was not what he is after; the inspector does not stop questioning until that particular person understands that the connection with Eva Smith was one of the causes to her death. The Inspector already knows what had happened, and is just asking the members of the family to get them to confess. A good example of this can be seen when the inspector gets Mr. Birling to explain what his connection with Eva Smith was, but Mr.
Birling completely denies it having anything to do with her suicide. “It is a perfectly straightforward case, and as it happened more then 18 months ago – nearly two years ago – obviously it has nothing whatever to do with me. ” The inspector then responded; “What happened to her then may have determined what happened to her afterwards and what happened to her afterwards may have driven her to suicide. ” If the Inspector was after the truth then he would have stopped there and carried on to the next person. The fact that the inspector carries on to argue with Mr.
Birling shows that his motives are much deeper then the truth and he isn’t there to find out why Eva Smith died, but why do the Birlings feel that they can treat anyone, anyway they would like to. Here the Inspector is used as a dramatic device to show that he is a god like figure. He directs the events, gives judgement, issues warning and controls the pace of the play. The inspector is portrayed as the exact opposite of Mr Birling. The inspector disagrees with all of Mr Birling’s views and ideas. When the Inspector rings the door bell Mr Birling is talking about his philosophy of life, the Inspector of course thinks the exact opposite.
The inspector ringing the door bell at that exact moment interrupts Mr Birling, almost like the inspector rang the door bell at that time intentionally, in order to stop Mr Birling. Mr Birling immediately stops talking and listens, “We hear the sharp ring of the front door bell, BIRLING, stops to listen”. The word ‘sharp’ symbolises the change that is about to take affect in the Birlings home. The significance of the inspector entering is that interrupting Mr Birling is his complete opposite; this can be reflected as the inspector correcting Mr Birling.
The play is set in 1912; however it was first preformed in 1945. Priestly set the play in 1912 to show how arrogant and confident Mr Birling is. In 1945 the Titanic had already sunk, but as the play was set in 1912, in the play it hadn’t yet. Priestly uses this to illustrate Mr Birling’s arrogance, as Mr Birling claims that the Titanic will be a success and that it is unsinkable. “Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable. ” This is where dramatic irony is shown, the audience obviously knows that the Titanic sunk, and therefore Mr. Birling is portrayed as very arrogant and ignorant.
The play is set 2 years before world war one, which then was the biggest war and was called the war to end all wars. Priestly uses this fact to again highlight Mr Birling’s arrogance, Mr Birling comments about how in their society there is absolutely no way that a war will start. “The Germans don’t want war. Here, Priestly again shows Birlings arrogance. He is positive that there is absolutely no chance of war and when his son suggests that there is a chance of war, Birling completely rules it out and claims that he is an educated business man and that Eric should listen and learn from him.
By disapproving Birling’s ideas, Priestly is also disproving the right wing ideas and therefore it is a way of conveying a left wing message. Priestly uses many dramatic devices to influence the audience; dramatic irony is one of them. Dramatic irony is where a character has limited knowledge of something in contrast to the audience which understands the subject greatly. Dramatic irony is used early in the play to illustrate Birlings arrogance and ignorance. When Birling comments on why the Titanic will succeed and how their will be no more wars, the audience obviously knows that although it’s a very convincing speech, it’s is all untrue.