Focusing on language, structure and character comment on how he manages it. In the play, “An inspector calls” by J. B. Priestley there are great similarities and differences in which both relate from the time the play was set, time it was written in and now, the time it is viewed in. The relations between all go from something as little to how things happened to things as big as war in the world and how ironic things are.
Some of the issues that are going to be discussed are; Status that people have in there community and how important it is, the fact that war is still going on when at the time the play was set war would not have been thought to ever happen again, classes and how they play a big part in peoples lives and about the big things that happen in a certain era have huge effects on public moods and whether they relate in anyway to the other era’s involved. The relations that are going to be looked at aren’t just what the years 1912, 1945and 2005 have in common but the comparisons that can be made about all too.
John Boynton Priestley was born in 1894 and died in 1984. He had always had a passion for writing but never decided to take things further by going to University while he was young. It was after being at war that he went to Cambridge University and gained a degree. He started writing articles, essays and novels and his first play was written in 1932, that’s 13 years before “An inspector calls” was written. Priestley had lived through two of the main wars in the world therefore he had great knowledge of the opinions that people had both before 1912 and after.
He fought through the 1st one and escaped death numerous times but during the 2nd he broadcast his own radio station to the worried public. However it was cancelled early on because of his strong political views and certain people were not happy to hear his opinions on the government at the time and key issues he was concerned with. The issues he were concerned with are brought into the play in many ways; inequality in Britain, how people should stop thinking property and power and start thinking creation and community, respect for people no matter who they are or their background and the status that people had and what was thought of them.
This statement made by Priestley sums up his beliefs in one, “A man is a member of a community and the fact he is a member of a community immensely enlarges stature and increases his opportunities. But as well as being a member of a community a man is also a person, a unique individual and it is in fact the business of the community not simply to glorify but to produce better persons. To enrich its individual sphere. ” It’s a very strong statement used to firmly show how he thinks. All of the above beliefs are clearly shown in the play and are greatly linked to each other.
At first I personally thought that Priestly sounded to be a not so nice man but as I gathered more information I discovered he was a great man who had good strong beliefs and tried to make a difference as shown in the play. I was proved to be very wrong and have changed my opinion on how to portray Priestley. 1912 was a year that nobody would have liked to live in. It was full of war, put downs in society, strong distinction between upper and lower classes, a year in which no woman had a life of her own but one of what a man said, and the year that the impossible happened…
known as the unsinkable which happened to sink. A quote taken from Stephen Daldry about this time was, “There’s no society. ” These three simple words described it in one and were a good way of putting it. 1912 and 2005 don’t have many similarities but do have a lot to compare. The things to compare are how class situation and the place of a woman in society have changed. Nowadays women have a big say in what happens as they have the vote and have good jobs but back in them days women were told what to do and had no say.
This is reflected in the play as Arthur Burling mainly takes the lead and as his wife tries to get involved he takes over and in some way pushes her to the side. Clearly showing he is the one in charge and putting her in what he thinks is her place. He also does the same to his daughter as he doesn’t want her involved with any of the business to do with the inspector, therefore when he finds out she is a big part of it gets a bit annoyed and some would say maybe jealous. These situations would rarely be found happening today as many women would stand up for themselves and not take any nonsense.
Another thing that was thought to bring people happiness back then was wealth and fortune. Many people believed if you had these then you were set for a happy life and have no troubles. Arthur Burling and his family would have thought that too until the inspector turned up, and at that moment they would have maybe began to question whether it was right and whether money could bring you happiness. Today that thought is still around for some people but many do think happiness cannot be bought.
In 1945 a lot of people were depressed after six years of war, two bombs were dropped on Japan killing many people and there was a lot of mixed emotion and controversy about what was to be done for the society next. However, a more positive result of war ending brought a result of class distinctions being greatly reduced, women having a more known position in society and being given more chances and value and also there was a great desire for social change with peoples status’ and a new government to be Labour to change all this.
Every person was given new chances with no exception… no matter their background “War had broken boundaries and walls between classes down” as said by Stephen Daldry. As this is the year that Priestley wrote “An inspector calls” he will have had all these things in mind and a lot more. His ideas will have reflected the public moods and after yet another war his feelings from the 1st war will have come back having a great influence on what he was to write about i. e. “An inspector calls” being written at that time but yet being set in 1912.