An Inspector Calls: A Play by John Boynton Priestly

An Inspector Calls is a play that was written in 1994 by John Boynton Priestly. He deliberately set his play in 1912 because the date represented an era when all was very different from the time he was writing. In 1912, rigid class seemed to ensure that nothing would change, yet by 1945 most of the class divisions had been breached. Priestly wanted to make the most of these changes.

The Birling family are spending a happy evening celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft; a marriage that will result in the merging of two successful local businesses. Yet, just when everything seems to be going so well, they receive a surprise visit from an Inspector Goole who is investigating the suicide of an unemployed and destitute woman; Eva Smith. Throughout the play J.B Priestley encourages people to seize the opportunity the end of the war had given them to build a better, more caring society.

Socially, the Edwardian era was a period during which the British class system was very rigid. It is seen as the last period of the English country house. Economic and social changes created an environment in which there was more social mobility. Such changes included rising interest in socialism, attention to the plight of the poor and the status of women, including the issue of women’s suffrage, together with increased economic opportunities as a result of rapid industrialisation. These changes were to be hastened in the aftermath of the First World War.

The play is a morality play, as Priestly teaches us right from wrong and that we should all accept responsibilities. Each character is guilty of committing a sin: Mr Birling is guilty of greed as he sacked one of his employees: Eva Smith, just to save money. He is perceived as rather selfish as he only cares about the engagement because of the prospect of both companies joining together, meaning more success for him and increased wealth. He is not actually concerned of his daughter’s happiness or well being. He.

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An Inspector Calls: A Play by John Boynton Priestly. (2018, Aug 17). Retrieved from