Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Priestleys use of dramatic techniques to create tension in An Inspector Calls :: English Literature
Examine Priestley's use of dramatic techniques to create tension in the play. Priestly was a socialist writer, and 'An Inspector Calls' is one of the plays in which he tried to display his socialist ideals in. The play was written in the 1940's, a little after the end of the Second World War, and it was first performed in 1946, in Russia, then later in England. Priestly had served in World War 1, and the terrible scenes he saw lead to him having socialist views. He was inspired by other writers whose views he shared, especially George Orwell and H.G. Wells, both of whom references are made to in the opening pages of the play. A lot of the tension in the play is between Birling and the Inspector, both of who are powerful figures in the household and are both vying for dominance, creating a lot of tension. This is symbolic of the global struggle between capitalism and socialism, the Inspector represents Priestley's socialist views, and Birling, the antithesis of the Inspector represents capitalist views, which is made clear through his speech "the interests of Capital steadily increasing prosperity." When the Inspector is there, Birling is very fast to drop the blame on someone else, insisting "I can't accept any responsibility" which is a complete contrast of what the Inspector says, telling the family to "share the blame among yourselves when I have left" This constant conflict, which is often at the heart of the dramatic genre itself, makes sure there is tension whenever the two characters are talking to each other. This conflict is not the only one within the play. Eric also takes the side of the Inspector, causing tension between him and his father after the Inspector has left, this side is also taken by Sheila, causing a "split" in the family, which can be seen by "I suppose we're all nice people now." and "What's the use of talking about. Nobody's brought her to life, have they?" Whereas Birling says, after the Inspector was found to be fake "This makes a difference y'know. In fact it makes all the difference." Also the reference the Inspector makes about Socialism being a lesson we have to learn "We are members of one body if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." This is a reference to the way Priestley thought that Capitalism was the cause of First World War, which he himself served in, the "fire and blood and anguish" being a reference to events he witnessed while fighting on the front line.