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An Inspector Calls - What is the dramatic interest for the audience in the opening section of the play? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > English literature > An Inspector Calls - What is the dramatic interest for the audience in the opening section of the play?

An Inspector Calls - What is the dramatic interest for the audience in the opening section of the play?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1900 | Submitted: 12-Mar-2008
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An Inspector Calls

What is the dramatic interest for the audience in the opening section of the play?

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The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written by J.B. Priestley in 1945 but is set in 1912, the Edwardian Era, and is based on an investigation which takes place following the death of a young woman named Eva Smith. Priestley was a strong believer in socialism and wrote the play to illustrate the problems with the class structure and social hierarchy of that period. The play was written at a time when social change was happening and the old rigid class boundaries were scrutinised. People were beginning to broaden their horizons and refuse to accept that prospects and prosperity should be determined according to an accident of birth.

The audience are introduced to an affluent upper class family by Priestley when he opens the play in the dining room of a rather grand suburban house. The Birlings represent the socially upwardly aspiring manufacturing class of the turn of the century ambitious to rise higher up the social ladder with a ruthless determination and absence of social conscience. They represent the old system of social inequality rather tellingly they still have servants. Mrs Birling states,

“I’ll ring from the drawing- room when we want coffee.”

The audience in the 1940’s may have viewed the setting with a mixture of nostalgia and relief concerning the changes in society that had taken place and were continuing to happen.

In the opening scene, Priestley establishes a mood of comfort, privilege, and formality. It is a family gathering but the atmosphere is heavy like the furniture which is described as ‘Substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike.’ This suggests that the house is decorated and furnished in a style intended to impress visitors rather than to provide comfort for the inhabitants.
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