An Inspector Calls By J. B. Priestley

1487 Words Sep 21st, 2014 6 Pages
The play An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley tells the story of a wealthy family in 1912 who are holding a celebration when the harsh figure of a police inspector arrives to investigate the suicide of a young woman who used to work at Mr Birling’s factory. In the first fifteen pages of the play, Priestley is able to make the Birling family appear extremely confident, whilst also creating subtle tensions, of which the significance later becomes clear.

Confidence:
In the opening pages of the play, Birling’s speeches contain a lot of dramatic irony. For example, he confidently states what he thinks are proven facts which turn out to be false. For example, Birling’s response to rumours about a war is ‘to that I say - fiddlesticks!’ and that there ‘isn’t a change of war’. This is extremely ironic since several years after the play is set, World War I breaks out and after that, before the play is written, World War II follows.

Birling later mentions a friend of his who was due to go on the Titanic, and he calls it ‘unsinkable’. The Titanic was the height of aristocracy at the time, and was one of the biggest events of the time showing such huge class divide. The dramatic irony is that the Titanic, in fact, sunk, despite its reputation as being ‘unsinkable’, and Birling’s complacency and confidence causes him to not consider the possibility of this happening. It also makes him appear rather idiotic to the audience.

Finally, he describes how Russia will always be ‘behindhand’…
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