John Boynton Priestley’s play, ‘An Inspector Calls’, fits into the genre of drama and detective and is also a morality play. It uses many dramatic devices such as the language he uses, the symbolism used in the play, and the stage directions. Using these, Priestley aims to subtly, or less subtly in some instances, (such as Birling’s Titanic speech) win over the audience’s favour. One example is the way he plays on the two characters of Inspector Goole and Birling, the Capitalist, to make Birling appear as the antagonist or ‘bad guy’ as a result. In December 1946 President Truman signed Declaration 2714, officially ending hostilities in World War II. The first Broadway production of the play was at the Booth Theatre on 21 October 1947, a
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Having witnessed the shock of war himself, perhaps he felt it was his duty as a Socialist to prevent this from happening after the war. In the Inspector’s speech, he mentions that people must learn to cooperate peacefully or they “will be taught in fire and blood and anguish”. This is likely referring to the war. “Fire” could clearly represent gunfire or the shells, “blood and anguish” meaning the sight and thought of fellow men being killed. The Inspector’s speech is often full of emotive and soulful language, as if he had been there himself to witness it. As Priestley’s mouthpiece, it provides many opportunities to describe his own experiences, and ideas. It is a morality play, passing on those ideas not only through the Inspector, but through the events and lessons that sadly not all the characters learn. His Socialist beliefs strongly affect how the play progresses, and the fates of the characters depend on whether they regard the Inspector, or Priestley’s, guidance.
From the beginning, the audience is involved in the world that Priestley has created. They say that the house is “belonging to a prosperous manufacturer”. This immediately leads the audience into suspense – Who is this “prosperous manufacturer”? – and is also another hint of Capitalist symbolism in the play. The audience is then immersed in the relevant atmosphere and surroundings before becoming involved in the life of the Birlings. We learn that they are a supposedly close-knit family,