The play was first performed in Moscow in 1945 and as it was a communist state it was obviously going to agree with the message of the play and hence support it and give it the elevation needed for the message to be spread on a wider scale. It was also relevant at the time as a propaganda play, J.B. Priestly wanted a labour victory in an upcoming election in 1945 and the message of his play support them and helped them to victory.
He wanted them to win because after they did they made Britain into a welfare state, i.e. helping others, which is what Priestly believed in as he was a socialist. It was a theme of his play, One Body. He believed nobody cared for each other in society and wanted people to change their attitudes, he wrote this play to try and change people’s attitudes and by using it as propaganda in a labour victory he did change Britain and made it, in theory anyway, a society which helped each other more.
Another way in which Priestly wanted to change society was it’s attitudes to war. He was concerned by society’s attitudes to war. He wrote the play to try and prevent it happening again. He had fought in the war and it affected him and his writing greatly, he had witnessed the horror and wanted to use his play to prevent such horror happening again. In Birling’s speech he also mentions war, he dismisses it and as he is portrayed as stupid and foolish which shows a message that it is foolish to dismiss war. This shows Priestly was trying to make the audience disagree with Birling and think it is important to try and prevent war and to worry about it.
The character of Mr Birling shows the least development in the play, as a representation this of capitalism this could be Priestly conveying a message that capitalism is a waste of time as it will not change for the better and that when its shortcomings are exposed it will not take responsibility and will blame others. This is another example of Priestly’s socialist views coming through. Mr Birling’s pompous, overconfident nature also reflects Priestly’s views on capitalism. The fact that he is overconfident shows that Priestly believes that capitalism is a wrong idea and it will fall flat on its face, as it is a flawed concept in Priestlys opinion.
Dramatic irony is used well in a variety of ways throughout the play. The actual technique is when the audience knows more than the character for example in Mr Birling’s speech about the titanic the audience is already aware that the titanic will sink. The technique is sued to make Mr.Birling look stupid and as he represents capitalism it, once again, conveys the message that Priestly thinks capitalism is bad. This technique also involves the audience and maintains their interest so that rather then just watching the play they become more involved with the characters and think about it more.
Lighting techniques also reveal a lot about the play. ‘The lighting should be pink and intimate until the inspector arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder’. The pink, intimate, warm lighting shows how warm and comfortable the family are but then the Inspector arrives and he sheds light on the entire situation hence the lighting getting brighter and harder. He also shatters their illusion of comfort and safety hence the lighting becoming more hard and cold than warm and homely.
The sound effect of the door interrupting the Birling’s celebration is basically a representation of what Priestly wants his play to do. He wants it to shake up the cosy lives of the capitalists in Britain and bring their deficiencies to light; the sound effect of the door signals the arrival of socialism. Mr. Birling tries to make out that he is above the law, which implies he is above anyone else. This is Priestly’s way of conveying the message that the upper classes have it all while the poorer are being left to fend for themselves, it shows that the upper classes are putting themselves above the others and aren’t treating them fairly. This was something Priestly desperately wanted to change and bring to light and this message was conveyed in An Inspector Calls using that method.
The identity of the character of the Inspector is debateable; one view is that he is J.B. Priestly himself. The lighting is pink and intimate when just the capitalists are in the room but the arrival of the Inspector shatters this. Priestly would have been hoping that his play, as he was a socialist, would have shattered the comfortable position of the capitalist people when it arrived. As such the Inspector was actually an embodiment of the effect that Priestly was hoping the play would have on society. In conclusion there are many messages portrayed in ‘An Inspector Calls’. It is an important book that is as relevant today as it was when it was written.