An Inspector Calls was written in the 1940’s by J.B.Priestly and was first produced in London on 1st October 1946 at the New Theatre. The play is set in the year 1912. In the play, he uses the characters to express his views about socialism and possibly about class divisions. At the beginning of the play, J.B. Priestley gives a very detailed amount of stage settings, lighting and character descriptions.
For example “The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and home like”. The extremely large table was the central point of the beginning. The size of the table showed that although the characters were a family, they were not close, not even to eat and celebrate with each other. The rich colours and costumes were excellent ways of showing the wealth of the characters. They were also portrayed very well to be pleased with themselves.
Arthur Birling is a heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech. Mrs.Birling plays the stubborn type who never accepts the truth; she is about fifty, a rather cold woman. Sheila is a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited. Gerald Croft is an attractive young man about thirty; he is a well- bred young man. Eric is in his early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive, and not at all confident. An example of a dramatic device is on page 9 Eric says ‘yes I remember (but he checks himself)’. This is a dramatic device because it gives the audience the impression that Eric knows something about the girl that has just died or suggests that he holds an important secret.
Inspector Goole/ Mr Birling
Before the Inspectors arrival the family seems strong and happy. The men are confident which sets a very positive atmosphere. In the early years of last century, Arthur Birling is holding a family dinner party to celebrate his daughter’s engagement. Into this cosy and happy scene intrudes a police inspector called Inspector Goole. He is apparently investigating the suicide of a young working class woman and under the pressure of his interrogation every member of the family turns out to have a shameful secret that links them to her death. The inspector’s role in the play is vital in creating suspense for example, when the Inspector enters the home of the Birlings the lighting changes dramatically from pink and intermit to bright and very harsh light. The main character in this play is inspector Goole; he also makes an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.
He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the time period. He speaks carefully, weightily, and has a habit of staring hard at the person he is addressing before speaking. He grows and remains very solid when every other character breaks down. He also uses the information he holds to create an impression of someone who is both an outsider and an omniscient (know it all), this makes him look powerful and mysterious. On the arrival of the inspector, he seems like a regular inspector, and the Birlings don’t seem to act as if much is wrong. When the inspector addresses Mr Birling he is quite polite “thank you, sir”. This suggests that he is a very manner able person. The inspector takes his job seriously “no, thank you. I’m on duty”. This suggests that he is a very responsible, trustworthy and respectable person.