Evaluate the success of Priestley’s use of settings in expounding his socialist agenda in An Inspector Calls Essay
“An Inspector Calls” was set in 1912 and aimed to get a message across to its audience. What was this message and how did Priestley’s use of setting expound his socialist agenda? This essay will evaluate the question. The play is written to effect and influence the audiences’ views and feelings towards the plot. At the beginning of the play during Sheila and Gerald’s engagement, everybody is celebrating with happiness so the author portrays a “pink and intimate” lighting which creates a soft, smooth and inviting environment. This creates a gentle hearted approach to the audience and shows no approaching threat.
Though when the Inspector arrives, the lighting has dramatically changed to a solid and intense tone which builds concern and suspense as the audience’s inquisitiveness is raised. The audience at this point show some awareness as to what the inspector is there for and has to bring, quite likely negativity. The sound of the doorbell spots Goole existence. It signifies an urgent and a negative approach when the door has been opened. This interrupts Birling’s speech and lets the audience know Priestley is quite aware that Birling is talking a lot and is involved with the Inspectors visit. Birling quotes “The titanic…unsinkable…absolutely unsinkable” the use of dramatic irony indicates that Birling is arrogant and his “know it all “way of thinking manipulates the audiences’ feelings towards him as foolish and impulsive.
“There isn’t a chance of war”, dramatic irony is also used here and this repetitive and reckless attitude towards social matters leads an awful start to Birlings character to the audience. When Edna (housekeeper) declares the Inspectors arrival, worry’s already occur. “Here what do you mean? Well I don’t think it’s very funny” Eric begins to behave suspicious to Gerald’s joke. This creates the audience to become uncomfortable and makes the audience think that Eric is suspicious. “Perhaps I ought to explain first, this is Mr. Gerald Croft- the son of Sir George Croft- you know, Crofts limited”, Birling uses his upper class and position to get the inspectors respect and to show that the inspector is lower in class then him. Birling uses Gerald’s name to show his higher class knowledge as a protection mechanism. Birling wants to show the audience who the inspector is and how he should be treated. Birling also wants to indicate to the audience that the inspector has been put back into his place so he does not take advantage.
The inspectors final sentence “well” after Sheila and Gerald’s talk about the new found knowledge of Gerald’s affair with Renton has a dramatic impact on the audience as it leaves them with eagerness as to what lies next, making the audience want to watch on. When Mrs Birling looks at the photograph which the Inspector produces she is very shocked but when the Inspector asks her if she recognizes the woman, she becomes very defensive. “No, why should I” This gives the impression that she is an upper class lady which does not want to recognize some peasant from the streets. Though she feels like she can hide the truth away from the Inspector she is shaken when he reply’s to her statement. “Of course she might have changed lately, but I can’t believe she could have changed so much”. Her next statement indicates that she does not understand what the Inspector is talking about. The plan which was to threaten the Inspector has now turned into shambles for Mrs Birling, as he would repeatedly think she was lying. This indicates to the audience that the Inspector is taking advantage of her.