The Play Is Far More Than A Detective S Essay

Submitted By jangor
Words: 1505
Pages: 7

“The play is far more than a detective story: it exposes the selfishness, inhumanity and snobbishness of the Edwardian era.” Discuss

“An Inspector Calls” is a play about a police investigation into the death of a local young woman named Eva Smith. The play was set before the Titanic sunk. The Birling family were involved in the death as they all had a linked connection to Eva Smith. At first the play appears as a typical “who done it?” investigation story. However this play is much more than that as Priestley makes the characters symbolize segments of middle class society in the Edwardian era and the appalling attitude that the middle classes had towards the working classes in those days. Priestley uses a “whodunit” genre throughout the play as he focuses on events which lead to the death of Eva Smith. Priestley uses a variety of dramatic devices, such as dramatic unites, carefully plotted far-fetched coincidences and tension. He also emphasises how people’s actions affect others. Priestley makes all the characters at one time feel guilty of the crime that has been committed, except for Mr and Mrs Birling. They, as characters, are very cold hearted The location is important because it sets the scene, allows the play to be more dramatic and creates a greater impact on the audience, for example when the inspector arrives. The location also provides the settings of the play such as the furniture etc. the setting gives off a mood/ impression, for example the impression that the audience get from the Birling’s room is that it is extremely formal and not homely what so ever. The whole play is set in one room. Priestley chose this setting to convey the Birling’s attitudes, by holding the play in one room the audience are aware of the Birling’s thoughts towards others, they completely shut out the rest of the world and think they are higher and more classy than everybody outside of their family (outside of the room). The Birling’s house is not the kind of house where you could lounge about in the evening. It is more of a house than a home. Priestley highlights the wealth of the Birlings by displaying the silverware, expensive valuables, the jewellery and the clothes that the family were wearing, for example Sheila and Mrs. Birling wore classy dresses that were extremely fashionable in the Edwardian days. The Birlings are the perfect example of a prosperous family. The way the Birlings act at dinner is not how families normally act with each other; the way they talk to each other is formal instead of warm and lovingly like parents should be with their children. The stage directions Priestley uses give powerful first impressions of the family, “at rise of curtain the four Birlings and Gerald are seated at the table” this stage direction underlines the fact the Birlings are in their own world. They do not enter from different directions and get into their roles; they are firmly seated around the table as the curtain rises. The Birlings are middle class; Priestley uses each of them to show different aspects of their power, privilege and complacency. Mr. Birling is extremely self-opinionated “don’t know what some boys get up to nowadays” the fact that he is all about himself is highlighted here, it’s as if he pays no attention to what is going on around him and he is in his own little bubble, shutting off the rest of the world. The most important thing to the capitalistic Mr. Birling is money, “you’re just the kind of son-in-law I’ve always wanted” this illustrates how cold hearted Mr. Birling is and that he is happier with the fact that Gerald will help him benefit in a financial way, not that he will make his daughter Sheila happy and be her companion for the rest of their lives. Mr. Birling puts profit before people. He treats those lower in status than him with no respect, “If you don’t come down hard on these people...” by referring to them as “these people” emphasises the lack of respect he has for people of lower class