‘An inspector calls’ has been called a play of social criticism. What is being criticised? Comment on the way in which Priestley makes use of Dramatic technique to achieve the plays effect. ‘The Inspector calls’ is a play of drama, love, truth and lies, but also a play of social criticism. Priestley uses dramatic technique, to achieve the plays effect whilst making a valid point about social inequality. In this play Priestley is criticising the way some members of society behave.
He presents this by showing at the start of the play the family are an ordinary middle class family and then the inspector enters and the whole image is broken down and they become the criminal family that they would look down upon. The image of the middle class family is built up at the beginning of the play so that Priestley can break it down so dramatically as the play progresses. This is very much built up by Mr. Birling. He is very arrogant and prejudiced against the lower classes and is a pushy man. He looks down on other people and thinks too much of himself.
Priestley builds up this impression of Birling by him being arrogant and pushy “Now then Sybil, you must take a little tonight, special occasion… eh. ” Priestley is criticising Birling, and the higher classes as being very selfish, especially when he is thinking about business, he says: “I’m going to tell you… your engagement to Sheila means a lot to me… Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but working together for lower costs and higher prices. ” This shows that Birling is only thinking about himself, when he says that he is very happy that Sheila and Gerald are getting engaged.
He is only thinking of the business opportunities that the two major companies children being engaged will bring. Priestley is emphasising the fact here that the higher classes only think about themselves. Birling is so wrapped up in himself that he fails to see bigger things like war looming on the horizon. Birling doesn’t understand that we all have a part to play in the community; if fact he thinks the opposite, and when the inspector comes he teaches him that lesson. The higher classes abuse their power and this is one of the main points that Priestley is trying to get across in this play.
Priestley is criticising them because they use their power for the wrong reasons, for example Sheila having Eva sacked from Milwards because she giggled at her. This made Sheila feel inferior so she used the power that she had to get Eva sacked. As the inspector says ‘so you used the power that you had, as a daughter of a good customer and also of a man well known in the town, to punish the girl”. Sheila abused her power as a higher class citizen to get Eva sacked because she made her feel plain.
Priestly gets this point across by having the inspector say the most important lines for Sheila and her agreeing with him for everything he says. This use of dramatic technique in the play makes Sheila look weak for what she has done, although it was her in the higher position in the situation of Eva being fired. Priestley shows in this play that the higher classes feel much more powerful than the lower classes just because they have more money and better jobs. They feel that they can look down on the lower classes and this is another aspect of Priestley’s social criticism of the higher classes.
The higher classes feel hey have more power over the lower classes. An example of this in the play is when Gerald makes Eva/Daisy his mistress because she has no place to stay, and he has the money and rich friends with apartments in town. He installs her there mainly on pity at first but then Priestley shows that Gerald realises that because he is of higher class than Eva/Daisy he can have her as his mistress because it is his friends apartments that she is staying in. Also when the inspector is questioning Mrs.
Birling about when Eva went to her committee for help for help; she remarks to the inspector: ‘She was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl of her position. ‘ This shows that Priestley is trying to make a point that the higher classes claim that the lower classes cannot have fine feelings. The inspector’s timing is impeccable. He enters at just the right time when Mr. Birling is feeling so good about himself and saying that “we don’t all need to be mixed up in the community. ” Priestley creates this effect by using irony in the play.
This is ironic because the inspector enters just as Birling is giving his speech about not needing to help others, and the whole point of the ‘inspector’ coming is to teach them to look after others and to help the community. The impression the inspector crates is considerable. He is not a very large man but has a large power surrounding him. Priestley uses dramatic technique to create this impression. This inspector shocks the family the moment he enters by telling them the news about Eva, which instantly means he has an advantage over them.
Priestley uses dramatic technique to create an impression of going in and out of the outside world using the doors of the house. Priestley uses the doors to represent going in and out of the dining room which has become the interrogation room. The doors represent a time when the family was on the other side and none of them knew each other’s sins or faults in relation to the night the inspector came. As each member of the family enters the room they are going in there to be interrogated so they can never be clear of their connection with Eva Smith again.
Priestley has the inspector there to question the family. Priestly uses dramatic technique to create an image of the inspector but in a way that he is not like a police inspector. He stares at people hard while questioning them and knows a lot about the person and what they have done before they know that he knows. Priestley makes use of dramatic technique to make the inspector not like any other police inspector but more like someone who is questioning them about morals. He also creates an air of mystery surrounding the inspector and Sheila picks up on this “I don’t understand about you”.
This shows that Priestley creates a dramatic atmosphere by not letting the inspector reveal much about himself. Priestley uses the telephone in a way that brings good and bad news to the people in the family. It brings joy and dread while making a statement that they use the telephone to escape their problems.
Gerald says: ‘By ringing the Infirmary’ which suggests that he thinks that it will solve their problems and that if he proves the story wrong then he will gain back Mr. Birling’s trust so that he can marry Sheila. Priestley makes use of dramatic technique here to achieve the effect of the telephone being the source to the outside world. J. B. Priestley is criticising social inequality in his play ‘An Inspector calls’. He uses dramatic technique as well to create the plays effect, and to emphasise the characters. Priestley’s chief point is to make the reader see that we are all in the community together and that we should help others as much as we can.