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Eric’s role is perhaps the most dramatic as it tells the tale of a child with a false upbringing, forced to hit the bottle by parents who neither love nor respect him. This is evident throughout the play, with Birling constantly telling him to ‘shut up’. And when Eric attempts to voice his opinion on the war, Mr. Birling instantly cuts him off saying, ‘just let me finish’. Even Eric himself respnds to Mr. Birling’s telling him, ‘You damned fool-why didn’t you come to me’ by saying, ‘your not the kind of chap a man could turn to’.
Eric meets Eva at a bar and begins a sort of relationship with her.
Initially it is just lust, but it soon develops into love. He sees Eva regularly and eventually he gets her pregnant. At this point, he realises that he cannot support her and so he steals from his father to pay her money but once she discovers that he has been stealing she refuses to accept the money and leaves.
However, as opposed to denying his role in her eventual suicide, he feels genuinely upset about her dreadful fate. And where as the elders are willing to forget as soon as possible he says, “I’m not likely to forget”. This once again conveys the message that the younger generation are more impressionable.
However, once Mr. Birling realises that his son has stolen from him, one would expect that he would express a disappointment in his sons breaking of a trust that most father and sons share.
Sadly, Mr. Birling is not such a person, and so he reacts instantly by trying to figure out a way in which to cover up this scandal and avoid a loss of money. This shows Priestley deep hatred of those who value money more than moral values. And indeed, this is a disguised attack on capitalism. Mr. Birling then follows suite of Mrs. Birling and instantly passes the blame to his son, showing no compassion for his own offspring.
‘You’re the one I blame for this’. This is a poignant way to express a characteristic of humanity. When even the most primitive of animals are willing to support their young, our supposedly advanced human race is ready to disown their family if it means saving themselves. Indeed, the fact that this is a true statement makes this a dark day for humanity. Until now I have discussed how the younger generation are more sensitive to their actions than elders. However, Priestley also want to give the message that this is not always the case, and that youths can be swayed to the dark side, as is the case with Gerald.
Gerald has a much similar role to that of Eric. However, he does not impregnate her and he also truly cares for Eva Smith. Once he has confessed his crimes, he begins with repenting his sins. However, as Mr. Birling’s words begin to take their toll, he soon becomes as cold and heartless as his future father in law. However, he does still show some signs of the purity of youth when he initially accepts the blame for his actions. This also shows another side to Priestly’s message that the younger ones are more susceptible to outside influence. In this case Gerald has been negatively influenced by Mr.
Birling as his early signs of compassion are quickly disembowled. What is a Ghoul? The oxford dictionary defines it as a spirit said to prey on corpses. The fact that the inspector of the title is given the name Goole is no mere coincidence. He is a fascinating character that seems to be a combination of many things. Those who read the book may relate to his character in different ways. To some, he ma come across as a proprietor of justice, a man of the people, to others, and perhaps those of us with a strong capitalist judgement, he may seem to be nothing more than a socialist trying to bring down the western way.
And to a select few, of which I am a part, he is the conscience of each and every person incarnate. We see him in different ways depending largely on our personality and flexibility in regards to others. Some may see him as an unwanted pest while others, like myself, may seem him as a light relief from our hectic lives filled with deceit and denial. We can assume from the various reactions that his presence induces that Sheila is the only character that falls into the latter category. She describes him as ‘queer’ and eventually she comes to her own conclusion that even though he was not an inspector in the purist sense of the word.
He was still ‘our inspector’. As the play progresses, the inspector’s relationship with Sheila changes from one of integration and distrust, to that of trust and comradeship, and in a sense, she becomes his sidekick, supporting him wherever possible and helping on numerous occasions to drag the truth out of the other victims. However, the inspectors actions are not the only reason that he appears to have a supernatural awe surrounding him. Before his arrival, Mr. Birling dominates all scenes. However, as soon as the inspector makes his entrance this changes dramatically as he is reduced to a shadow of his former self.
The inspector is commanding figure who imposes himself beyond belief. No character dares stand up to him, and with this power, he is able to control the pace of the entire play. As I spoke of earlier, the inspector has a deep abhorrence for the diplomats who did not learn their lesson form the first world war. And so, in his final speech, the inspector is used to channel Priestley’s anger into one magnificent sentence that is the entire play in microcosm. ‘if men will not learn their lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish’.
The inspector is also used to destroy the divide between social standings when he replies to Mr. Birlings comments that they are not ‘criminals’ by saying that ‘sometimes there isn’t much difference’. This again refers to the fact that where as following the second world war where most social partitions were broken, the world managed for the most part to learn their lesson and to not respond in as harsh and drastic way as they did with WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles that inspired the hatred that led to the second world war.
Another message conveyed by Priestley is that even the closest relationships can hide the darkest secrets. This is evident as the night progresses and the various truths are brought out. This results in the deteriation of three relationships. First and foremost is the cancellation of the engagement between Sheila and Gerald. However, once Mr. Birling realises that Eric has stolen from him he is very unhappy. And shows signs of disowning him. His mother shows a similar reaction when finding out that he is an alcoholic that got Eva Smith pregnant.
On the other hand, Priestley does stress that revealing the truth can strengthen relationships as well. This is the case with Sheila and Eric. At the start of the play they have a poor relationship resulting in constant arguments, but, towards the end, they begin to understand each other more and so they support each other when faced by their parents. This also links in with the saying, “no man is an island”, (John Dunn), as every persons problems, whether they be guilt, or something less sinister will eventually come out and sharing them will eventually make them easier to bear.
“If we have nothing else to share, let us share our guilt”. (Inspector). Priestley also makes some slightly more obscure points such as the fact that the minor changes that took place between the first and second war are due to the compassion of the younger generations. Where as the first world war did very little to brake the barriers dividing classes, the second world war mixed people up a lot, and this was mainly a result of the younger generations that were effected by the first world war and that have a better understanding of classes.
Daldry, the director of the play has clearly recognised that Inspector Calls was written deliver messages to the audience, and so, in order to insure that this effect is not lost, he decides to use a unique form of production known as Verserendung, meaning making strange. This style was initially created by a German man called Brecht. The idea being to produce a strange set in order to make the audience become more engaged and consequently think more about the messages being conveyed. Daldry makes very effective use of stage directions in order to show the effect of the revelations taking place on the various characters.
The most notable being that by the end of the play Sheila has lost most of her clothing. This symbolizes her vulnerability to the inspector and her guilt. It also shows that she is shedding off the restrictive and cold upbringing that she has received in her aristocratic family. Her parents on the other hand, especially Mrs. Birling, do not show any signs of vulnerability. When one talks about a genre, there are generally set rules to follow. For an action film there has to be fighting, for romance, for love is essential and for the whodunit, well you need to have one main culprit with a smart inspector that figures it all out.
If I were to class inspector cqalls it would be a whodunit without a doubt. But what’s this, everyone is guilty, and there is no real inspector. This can’t be right… can it. Apart from the obvious, ‘An inspector calls’ does something that many people have tried to do, and will continue to try to do for many years to come. It reinvents a genre. It takes the traditional definition of a whodunit, takes it outside, gives it a solid beating and puts it in its place. Where as with many of this genre, most twists are evident long before they occur. ‘An Inspector Calls’ manages to keep the reader/viewer suspended to the bitter end.
With the tension fluctuating at an alarming and exciting rate. It is truly something to behold. ‘An inspector calls’ is a beautiful play that has gotten many adaptations throughout the years. But few have done the masterpiece justice. However, one adaptation stands out from the rest. Steven Daldry adapts the play to a unique style of production known as the Verserendung style that was developed by the German Brecht. This is designed to be as accessible to the audience as possible and this production is no different. All aspects are exaggerated and the play is made in real time to help with the audiences involvement.
Also, some of the characters actions are emphasised to show their personality and the affect that the interrogation is having on them. For instance, Sheila loses her clothing as the play progresses. This shows her ‘walls’ being broken down as the truth is unveiled. The house is shown on stilts, but in the background there are many identical houses that support John Dunn’s comment about no man being an island. This is because the identical houses symbolizes that there are many people are in the exact same situation. Also, the whole play is set in one scene, this shows that there is no escaping the truth as there is no way to escape the scene.
Also, when the inspector arrives, the house begins to break down and when he leaves, the house is totally destroyed. This shows that the truth has destroyed the entire family but when he has completely gone, they forget everything and begin to rebuild there house (aka their lives) as if nothing has happened. Finally, Priestley makes his final emphasis on the ability of the elderly to forget when the characters figure out that the inspector was a fake and so they instantly dismiss the night’s goings on and continue with their lives.
Conversely, Sheila and Eric refuse to forget what has happened and accept that they have to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives. In conclusion, Priestley conveys many messages and makes use of many techniques. Most notably the character interaction and stage directions. He manages to influence the majority of people that read this story to take note and attempt to change their outlook on life. Daldry manages to successfully translate this to the theatre and the result is a compelling story full of twists and turns that never loses sight of reality and one mans pain at the hands of an ignorant society.
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