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@Download E-pub Í An Inspector Calls æ The action of the play occurs in an English industrial city, where a young girl commits suicide and an eminently respectable British family is subject to a routine inquiry in connection with the death An inspector calls to interrogate the family, and during the course of his questioning, all members of the group are implicated lightly or deeply in the girl s undoing The family, closely knit and friendly at the beginning of the evening, is shown up as selfish, self centered or cowardly, its good humor turning to acid, and good fellowship to dislike, before the evening is over The surprising revelation, however, is in the inspector Review to come. An Inspector Calls is a memorable play from the mid 1940s, written by the popular English dramatist J.B Priestley Partly both philosophical and psychological, partly a moral fable, it is one of Priestley s best known works for the stage It deals with issues of exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, within the framework of a detective mystery And just to add a littlespice, it also has hints of the supernatural However it is firmly rooted in the English society life of the time, and An Inspector Calls is a memorable play from the mid 1940s, written by the popular English dramatist J.B Priestley Partly both philosophical and psychological, partly a moral fable, it is one of Priestley s best known works for the stage It deals with issues of exploitation, abandonment and social ruin, within the framework of a detective mystery And just to add a littlespice, it also has hints of the supernatural However it is firmly rooted in the English society life of the time, and thus is now considered to be a classic ofdrawing roomtheatre The text is often studied in English schools as part of the English Literature GCSE examination Additionally there has been a successful revival in live theatre productions in recent years, despite the fact that the play does feel heavily dated.The play takes place on a single night in 1912, slightly before the First World War, and focuses on the prosperous middle class Birling family, who live in a comfortable home in Brumley,an industrial city in the north MidlandsThere are three acts, all of which are clearly marked with directions for the set and staging, which J.B Priestley felt could be contained within one set, with differently lighted areas Interestingly, he states,The lighting should be pink and intimate until the INSPECTOR arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder Examples such as this one show that the author deliberately influenced the audiences perceptions about this character right from the start, in a subtly low key way Additionally Priestley is very clear about the physical attributes of his characters and their demeanour, to similar effect He leaves nothing to chance.A key character in the play, and one who controls and manipulates the action, is the inspector of the title, Inspector Goole view spoiler His name is a wry joke, an indication of the supernatural element of the play hide spoiler The entire play is set in the drawing room of the Birley family, as Inspector Goole questions the family about a young working class woman, Eva Smith, also known as Daisy Renton, who has apparently killed herself The family are nonplussed view spoiler but in the course of being questioned are revealed to have each played a significant part in what was effectively the destruction of this young woman s life Each character has contributed either a callous action, or a thoughtless one Each episode increases in irony, as the characters unknowingly express views which they may or may not come to rue when they turn out to have a personal application By the end of the play each character has reacted according to their temperament, whether they have found the events a sobering experience, or intend to put the revelations and offer of a new way of thinking behind them hide spoiler The themes here are close to J.B Priestley s heart John Boynton Priestley, to give him his full name, was born in 1894 in Bradford, a city in West Yorkshire in the north of England It seems as if his home town might be the basis for his invention ofBrumleyin An Inspector Calls, as he described his home as being in anultra respectablesuburb A clever boy, the son of a schoolteacher, Priestley went to grammar school, and then studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, after a period of military service during the First World War During the Second World War he became a well known voice on the radio, having in the meantime established a reputation as a journalist and critic His output was vast, including 50 plays and adaptations, several novels, volumes of autobiographical works, plus numerous essays and miscellaneous papers He became known for his common sense attitudes, in a way representing the voice of the common people Margaret Drabble said that he,consciously cultivated various poses of grumbling patriot, cosmopolitan Yorkshireman, professional amateur, cultured Philistine and reactionary Radical His left wing beliefs often brought him into conflict with the government of the time, but his was an influential voice at the start of the Welfare State.Issues of class are raised time and time again in An Inspector Calls Although the characters seem to a modern reader to be part of a narrow band of society, there are divisions within it which the characters feel have to be observed Mrs Birling is her husband s social superior he refers to himself as ahard headed practical man of businessEqually, Sheila s fiance Gerald would be her social superior if they got married This becomes evident when the audience learns that his mother, Lady Croft, disapproves of Sheila as a potential wife for her son Eva Smith could be disregarded by any of them as being of any importance, as she was a member of a lower order, a working girlof that class , as Mrs Birley says At first it seems extraordinary that the very first performance of An Inspector Calls, was actually in 1945 in the Soviet Union, before its premiere in the UK in 1946 One wonders what the Russian people would have made of such drawing room drama, especially at the time of the Soviet Union Yet much of Priestley s work has been adapted for the Russian stage, cinema and television And on reflection, perhaps it should not be so surprising J B Priestley was a Socialist, and both his experience and his political principles fed very much into his writing As well as the emphasis on class, the author makes it clear that the two younger members of the family, Eric and Sheila especially, are farshaken by what has happened than their parents Sheila protests,But these girls aren t cheap labour they re people.Indeed there are moments when Sheila herself is used as a device to imply precognition There seems to be a heavy element of doom as she says,Be careful you don t ask for any , GeraldAnd when she later says to her mother,You see, I feel you re beginning all wrong And I m afraid you ll say something or do something that you ll be sorry for afterwards the audience feels an empathic frisson with her apparent psychic ability.The parents however, Arthur and Sybil, continue to refuse to accept any responsibility The author is drawing a distinction between those who have accepted their responsibility and those who have not The Inspector at one point comments that he finds the younger generationimpressionable,idealistic Perhaps J.B Priestley, who greatly admired H G Wells, had a hope that Britain s future might take a Socialist turn He thought that it was the duty of everybody to care about the general welfare of all He also now seems like a natural literary successor to George Bernard Shaw In fact at one point one of his characters says,We can t let these Bernard Shaws and H G Wellses do all the talking The whole action describes a chain of events in Eva Smith s life The play sits quite well with several of the author s other plays, often referred to as hisTimeplays, of which the most famous areDangerous Corner , Time and the ConwaysandI Have Been Here BeforeIn all of these he explores the idea of precognition, fate and predestination or free will J.B Priestley was fascinated with time and causality, most especially with J W Dunne s theory of time This argued that the past was still present, and that time was not linear as had been traditionally believed There is a final twist in the play view spoiler The audience is invited to wonder whether we have gone back in time, and whether it will be repeated, or would different events ensue hide spoiler It has been suggested that the knowledge the Inspector has of thefire and blood and anguish,is itself precognition a foreshadowing of the First and Second World Wars.There is a lot of mystery and tension in this play, as well as it being a scathing description of the crumbling of middle class values There is also black humour and irony, mostly from the mouth of the droll Inspector,A nice little promising life there, I thought, and a nasty mess somebody s made of itIts attraction is that it is not merely a play with a social conscience, but also with intriguing, possibly supernatural and ambiguous events Throughout, the hypocrisies of Victorian and Edwardian English society are pointed up An Inspector Calls was initially produced immediately after the Second World War, when society again was again in a state of flux, and undergoing many transformations But in many ways this is a timeless classic It has been a perennial favourite, being translated and produced all over the world, and a film of it from 1954 starring Alistair Sim is still popular view spoiler Curiously, in this film, the Inspector s name is Poole , which does ignore Priestley s deliciously humorous pun It also tends to lessen the dramatic effect of the other police inspector who mysteriously rings the doorbell at the end of the play hide spoiler But the Inspector is very much J B Priestley s mouthpiece, when he insists,Public men, Mr Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges And his final message is crystal clear we all have a responsibility for othersWe do not live alone We are members of one body Re read this last week and then realized I have never added it to my books This is one of the most satisfyingly riveting plays i have ever read, seen in the theatre three times , watched in film Alastair Sims, goodness only knows how many times listened to on the radio and now I have an audiobook version Thus i can now luxuriate, whenever I feel the need to experience the wonderful schadenfreude of the gradual implosion of the horrendous edifice of arrogance which is the middle class Birlin Re read this last week and then realized I have never added it to my books This is one of the most satisfyingly riveting plays i have ever read, seen in the theatre three times , watched in film Alastair Sims, goodness only knows how many times listened to on the radio and now I have an audiobook version Thus i can now luxuriate, whenever I feel the need to experience the wonderful schadenfreude of the gradual implosion of the horrendous edifice of arrogance which is the middle class Birling family.The story begins with the self satisfied gathering of this greedy, insensitive and culpably unaware family being visited unexpectedly by a policeman Their arrogant high handedness and dismissive bluster paints them deeper and deeper into a well deserved corner of embarrassment and guilt or, to use another metaphor, they climb higher and higher up a vilely self satisfied ziggurat they think protects them from the lower orders and responsibility and yet, like some horribly twisted party game, we see the tower dismantled before our eyes Each family member is confronted suddenly and brutally with their rotten involvement in the downward spiral of a young suicide s life As the play goes on Priestley brilliantly puts his audience into two positions in one we watch the horrible family weave rope which, as the play goes on, we realize is going to hang them out to dry and we rejoice in their discomfiture but at the same time he turns the spotlight on the reader listener observer.are you, he says to us, any better When opportunities arise to belittle or abuse or take advantage of someone weaker or challenging or someone who makes you feel uncomfortable what do you do I love this play because it is a brilliant drama, has a wonderful building up of tension and approaching doom, has a startling ability to incite anger and sorrow and satisfaction but over it all I love it because it never ceases to challenge me Beaware of the effect your behaviour has, it tells me Take opportunities to make things right, it challenges, because one day you may find it is all too late and horrible things will come home to roost The proscenium stage has a romance of its own You, the spectator, is actually a Peeping Tom, staring into the lives of total strangers through the invisible fourth wall And what lives For on the stage, time and space are usually compressed or telescoped according to the whims and fancies of the playwright Passions are exaggerated on purpose, and action proceeds at an unbelievable pace all the while retaining the semblance of normality this is not essential for an arena stage, where the unr The proscenium stage has a romance of its own You, the spectator, is actually a Peeping Tom, staring into the lives of total strangers through the invisible fourth wall And what lives For on the stage, time and space are usually compressed or telescoped according to the whims and fancies of the playwright Passions are exaggerated on purpose, and action proceeds at an unbelievable pace all the while retaining the semblance of normality this is not essential for an arena stage, where the unreality of the situation is accepted by the audience from the start The denouement is usually explosive, and you leave the theatre emotionally drained.J B Priestley s An Inspector Calls uses the advantages and limitations of the proscenium stage to the maximum extent possible to produce a play which is a very good mystery in the Agatha Christie tradition , a social statement very much like Ibsen and a final twist which takes it into the realm of fantasy I read the play, then watched the BBC adaptation you have to see it performed to appreciate the power packed into ninety minutes of stage time view spoiler The Birlings the industrialist Arthur Birling, his wife Sybil, daughter Sheila and son Eric are having a quiet little dinner at their home to celebrate Sheila s engagement to Gerald Croft, son of Sir George and Lady Croft Gerald is also present For Arthur Birling, the occasion is doubly joyful, as Birling and Company are the less powerful competitors of Crofts Limited, and the marriage will mean a profitable business deal as well as a social coup d tat It is the pre World War I era, and Birling is acutely consciousness of his social backwardness something he is trying hard to rectify through his financial and political clout He has been rather successful as he hints to Gerald, because a knighthood is on the way.Into this haven of bourgeois comfort and security walks in Inspector Goole, unannounced, and goes about destroying it piece by piece He is apparently there to conduct an enquiry into the suicide of a girl, Eva Smith, who has been admitted into the infirmary after drinking disinfectant According to the inspector, the Birlings have a hand in the girl s death Initially Birling is haughty and superior being still on the bench and a friend of Chief Constable Colonel Roberts, he can afford to be short with a mere inspector Goole, however, goes about his business ruthlessly and ultimately succeeds in grinding them down, one by one.It comes out that the girl has been mistreated by all of them Birling initially fired her from his factory for organising a strike Sheila got her dismissed from her subsequent job at a dress shop out of pure jealousy and Gerald kept her for a year at a friend s flat, after picking her up from a bar which she was frequenting in her desperation This last revelation leads to Sheila breaking off her engagement, and Gerald goes out to be alone for a while But the Birling s evening of woe is far from over.Inspector Goole establishes that a couple of weeks before, Eva Smith had approached Mrs Birling in her capacity of the chairman of a charitable society She was pregnant and in desperate need of assistance Initially she had lied that she was a married woman and that her name was Birling however, the truth soon came out that the baby was out of wedlock Eva did not want to approach her lover because he was an immature boy who is an alcoholic and had stolen money to support her Mrs Birling, however, was adamant that the baby s father must be made solely responsible, and succeeded to influence the society to turn her out without a penny.However much the inspector bullies her, Mrs Birling is adamant now that the woman has committed suicide, her lover must be dealt with very severely Then Goole drops his final bomb the culprit is none other than Eric, her son, an accusation which the young man accepts He also admits stealing money from his father s firm.The family is in a total shambles now a son who has committed adultery and theft, a daughter whose engagement has ended the same day it started and a father in the hope of a knighthood, faced with public scandal and disgrace Eric is almost ready to murder his mother, because as he says, she is responsible for the death of her own grandchild It is at this point that the inspector begins to behave very peculiarly After rubbing in the fact that they all have got blood on their hands, he makes this speech and leaves One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and say and do We don t live alone We are members of one body We are responsible for each other And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men do not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish We don t live alone Good night.It is into the situation that Gerald comes back, and he comes with some welcome information he has just confirmed that there is no Inspector Goole in the police department With cold logic, he establishes that they have no reason to believe that the girl in each of the incidents mentioned by Goole is the same one true, he produced a photograph, but it was shown to each of them individually The hoax is confirmed when they call the infirmary and confirm that there has been no suicide that night.It is time for a pat on the back for Gerald, a sigh of relief from Mrs And Mr Birling, and a jolly round of drinks Sheila and Eric, though initially reluctant to return to normalcy are on the way to being persuaded when the phone rings.It is from the infirmary A girl has just died on the way there after drinking disinfectant, and a policeman is on the way to question them and the curtain descends hide spoiler The depth of the play is truly amazing Only when we encounter the conversation again can we understand its depth, and how cleverly it is constructed The story takes off smoothly from a drawing room farce to a darkly philosophical tragicomedy, which is sure to draw the viewers into the middle of it without them noticing and to leave them drained at the end.Highly recommended