Is an Inspector Calls a detective story or a social critique and How will the audiences views have changed on this from the time the play was written to today? Many people believe that An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley is a detective story because it is centred around an investigation of the Birling family and it is also indicated by the title. However, when you study the play in detail it becomes apparent that the play is not simply a detective story but it is also a social critique. However, the audiences views in the time the play was written will have changed from todays society as in my opinion, the social content was more relevant in 1945 and todays audiences may now view it simply as a light and comical mystery. It is clear from the outset that JB Priestley intended this to be a detective story. The title An Inspector Calls is very suggestive as to the topic of the play. It would appear from this that it is probable for the play to be based around the investigations of a clever and cunning detective inspector who calls upon a household to investigate a crime, and sure enough, this impression continues into the beginning of the play when the Birling family are informed that a detective has arrived at the house to get some information about the suicide of a young girl. However, right from the beginning there are great hints about the social issues that the play will cover.
Mr Birlings off beam speech at the beginning clearly indicates that this play is not your ordinary Agatha Christie style mystery. The deliberate way that JB Priestley makes Mr Birling reel out mistake after mistake is building an idea of an arrogant, middle class man who could easily represent a lot of the society that Priestley was living in at the time. A normal detective story can often build up a character showing him/her to be arrogant and pompous like Mr Birling, but it is the specific incidents that he mentions that is the first indicator that this play is more than a petty mystery. Birling proudly boasts that his friend will travel on the absolutely unsinkable Titanic, that he knows for a fact that there isnt a chance of war and that in the near future there will be peace and prosperity everywhere. Of course Mr Birling could not have been more wrong, within two years after his futuristic speech the most devastating war ever broke out affecting the whole world and the indestructible Titanic sank to its death in the Atlantic along with the majority of its passengers. Of course, as the play was written and shown in 1945 all of this would be clear to the audience.
The Term Paper on How Does the Character ‘Sheila Birling’ Change in the Play in ‘an Inspector Calls?’
How does the character ‘Sheila Birling’ change in the play in ‘An Inspector Calls?’ The play ‘An Inspector Calls was set in 1912 and written in 1945 by J.B Priestly. In those days society was capitalist, their was a massive division between upper class and lower class people, the wealth was not shared equally. The play is based on the Birling family headed by Arthur Birling who is a wealthy ...
This shows that Priestley has deliberately made it obvious that Birling is wrong about many social issues and that An Inspector Calls certainly has more to it than meets the eye. The second sign that this play is a social critique is the fact that Inspector Goole is not an ordinary inspector. In fact, even from him introducing himself it is clear there is something out of the ordinary about him as Goole is not a common name and it sounds odd when spoken. From the outset he does not behave in the respectful manner Mr Birling expects from a senior law enforcer. This is obvious when Mr Birling states that he refused the girls who wanted their rates raised to twenty five shillings a week. To this the Inspector asks why and Mr Birling, shocked at his impertinence retorts, Did you say Why? Another example is when the Inspector asks Sheila to remain in the dining room and Mr Birling angrily states that he thinks this request is uncalled for and officious.
The Inspector also seems to already know most of what has happened and it seems as if his only purpose of investigating the family is to reveal to them what he already knows. Sheila and Eric are the only ones who pick up on this, with Sheila telling Gerald you fool, he knows. Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much. The fact that neither of their parents notices this shows how the gap between the generations is widening, which is the third reason why the play is a social critique. In 1912 the new generation of children were very different from their Victorian parents.
As we begin to discuss social media and is impact on mass communications as a whole, we must first define what it is and how it came to be. The Dynamics of Mass Communications defines social media as a set of Internet tools that encourages content sharing and community relationships. Users are able to create online communities by exchanging, distributing and receiving content information. Social ...
Apart from being born under a new monarch, the younger generation were living through huge changes in society. The Victorian class system was being undermined by the increase in education of the lower classes and new laws that furthered equality for those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. This newfound equality often meant that children were growing up with a higher sense of responsibility than their parents, a main social theme for An Inspector Calls. They would also be more aware of the situations that others were in because of the increase of media which often told the stories of the lower classes that their parents had been shielded from in early life. In the play there are many indicators that even though Sheila and Eric are in their twenties their parents still treat them like children. This is shown when Mr Birling tells Sheila to run along and Mrs Birling is shocked at the fact that Eric drinks at bars. Today, it would be thought of as very patronizing if a father told his twenty or so year old daughter to run along as this seems the sort of thing you would say to a young child. Also, in todays society it is almost taken for granted that once your children hit eighteen (and often before that) theyll be going to bars and drinking alcohol.
In 1945, when the play was shown, there may have been less of a generation gap than in both 1912 and 2003. The hardships of war would have united young and old alike, with fathers and sons going off to fight together and with all generations being able to identify with each other through the fact they had often all lost someone close to them. This could have meant that this particular social matter was lost on 1945 audiences. However, I believe that back then other issues would still have been more relevant to audiences than to us today. In the play, Inspector Goole seems to want to make the family feel responsible. This is shown when Sheila says, you talk as if we were responsible.
In 1945 the issue of responsibility would have been much more significant than today. The population would have just learnt the hard way that although sometimes it is difficult to face up to your responsibilities, those who are stronger and more powerful have an obligation to help those who are being oppressed by the evils of the world. In An Inspector Calls this is shown by the fact that all four members of the influential Birling family and one future member, failed to help an unaided and vulnerable girl from the injustices of society and in fact drove her to suicide. In 1945, this is transferred to a much bigger subject, The World War. The United Kingdom had just declared war on what was then thought to be the evil of the world, Germany. They did this to protect a defenceless and weak Poland which was being unfairly attacked in the eyes of the British.
People nowadays are busy with their own lives by spending much time on their gadgets like tablets, iPads and laptops including the children. They are either doing their job or playing games because of habit on the gadgets and forgot the traditional games. It is agreed to say that children today prefer to play computer games to traditional games. For instance, children nowadays did not participate ...
Although it cost a lot, in 1945 we had just won a great victory over what was thought to be wickedness. Therefore, it seems likely that audiences back then would have been able to relate more to the fact that you need to be responsible for those less fortunate than yourself. In todays society I feel that we have more of an Arthur Birling approach to responsibility than they had in 1945. Today there is less of a community spirit with people minding their own business and not generally helping out people they dont know. I believe that responsibility is not such of an issue today, especially not in this country as most people have the means of looking after themselves. This means that the play may have had more of a social effect on audiences in 1945, as it was more relevant to their way of life.
Detective Story or Social Critique? This is quite a difficult decision to make, as the play is so clearly a detective story. It is the original mystery, with a group of people who know each other all ….