John Boyton Priestley was born in a Yorkshire town called Bradford. He was born in 1894; sadly that was the same year his mother died. When Priestley turned four years of age, his father, who was a teacher, married again. This brought more stability to his life. John Boyton Priestley got his first job when he was sixteen years old as a junior clerk in a wool company. He used this job to gain experience and became a stepping-stone for his future success. Priestley’s father had a network of friends who were socialites. These people inspired Priestly and he based his literary work on their attitudes to society. Their attitudes were that they wanted fair systems; they believed people should be treated equally. These plays are called morality plays.Order now
The morality play was a medieval style of drama, which tried to teach the audience a moral lesson. For example, through “An Inspector Calls” Priestly wanted to ask the audience, how responsible we are as individuals to society. Some play writers used allegory to get this moral question across. An allegory is when something other than a person would represent an idea. For example, in “Animal Farm” the writer used animals rather than actual people to get the idea of equal rights across.
‘An Inspector Calls’ is a naturalistic play. Naturalism is when the writer tries to mimics reality closely. He/She focuses on making the play as realistic as possible. By adding close detail to props and the storyline of the play itself. Priestly describes the furniture with great detail at the beginning; he specifies ‘good solid furniture of the period’ and that ‘the men are in tails and white ties, not dinner jackets’. Priestly is showing great detail to the furniture and the outfits. Since the play was set 30 years before it was written Priestly, to make the play more realistic, referred to the fashion of that particular period. This makes the play more enjoyable for the audience and also makes them believe what they are seeing is real.
Another example of Naturalism is, that Naturalism was concerned with moving beyond superficial storylines and grapple with social problems. So basically what Priestly has done to make this play a naturalistic play is that he has writ the play about social issues, which could occur in reality. Its as if he’s actually writ about something that has really happened in the past even though the play is fictional.
A good example of the opposite of what Priestly has done would be ‘Lord Of The Rings’, where the play involves giants, wizards and dwarfs. The play is also set on an unrealistic atmosphere where the scenery is very different to Earth. We all know that there is an incredibly small chance of something similar of this happening in reality. This makes ‘Lord Of The Rings’ not a Naturalistic play.
“An Inspector Calls” is about a wealthy family around the early 1900’s, who are all each partly responsible for the death of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. The play focus’s on each of characters reactions when an inspector who actually turned out to be a fake questioned them. Did any of the characters feel guilty or sorry for her death? Did they feel they were nothing to do with it? Priestly wanted the audience to leave asking themselves “are we all like this?”
“How responsible are we to others?” Priestly via “An Inspector Calls” was very successful at answering this question.Author Birling is successful businesses man who has been active in local politics. “I speak as a hard-headed business man” Birling states that he is the kind of person that is very strong minded. Once he’s made his mind up nobody is going to change it. We see this attitude when he is being questioned. “There’s a very good chance of a knighthood” Mr Birling sees a possible knighthood as a fair reward for his involvement in local politics. This will mean a lot more to Birling because a knighthood would equal him to Sir George Croft. Priestley is showing the audience how superficial the honours system can be.
He is arrogant and outspoken about his self-centered philospohy of the world. “The Germans don’t want war, nobody wants war” Mr Birling is making complacent predictions about history that are entirely wrong. His predictions, which are completely false, show a lack of understanding of the real world. He thinks everybody feels how he does about the situation. Since the play was written in the 1930’s the audience will know that Mr Birlings predictions are false because the war broke out just two years later. The audience are now already starting to understand what kind of person Birling is. His complacent predictions make his speeches ironic.