An Inspector Calls (1946)

Ahh Capitalism how I love you so. Your far more advanced than silly old Socialism, oh yes you are, whose a good political system? That’s right you are, yes you are!…Oh yeah right , sorry….Today I fancy reviewing something I had to read for GCSE. An attack on the Capitalist system in an intelligent way. This is J.B Priestly’s an Inspector Calls.

The play is set in the home of the Birling family which consists of Arthur Birling (A wealthy factory manager and head of the household, Sybil Birling, wife of Arthur and head of a charity, something of a socialite.  Eric Birling, the son of Arthur and Sybil, something of a drunk. Sheila Birling, Daughter of Sybil and Arthur, and Gerald Croft, Sheila’s fiancée. During the play the Birling’s are visited by Inspector Goole who inquires about the suicide of Eva Brown. It is soon revealed that each of the family members played a part in the girls death.

This is a very deep play. Priestley uses it to try to advertise Socialism, mainly through portraying the evils and destructive nature of Capitalism. Furthermore each of the characters can be related to one of the seven deadly sins (I’m not going into them in detail here look them up). I like the characters, especially the Birlings because of their greedy nature and the dramatic irony emphasises their stupidity. Inspector Goole is brilliant. Firstly I love the way the man probably doesn’t even exist, the Birlings phone to check and there is no Goole, hell there isn’t even an Eva. Secondly Goole just rips this family apart. They begin arguing amongst themselves, he threatens their social class and standing, he pretty much destroys any chance of the marriage between Sheila and Gerald. Every single page seems to have some form of Socialist symbolism to it and I love it for that. Priestly subtly tries to show that Capitalism is greedy and wrong and that Socialism is the only right way forward. I love the way each of the Birlings played a part and that none of them are innocent. Furthermore each of the Birlings can be said to represent a different aspect of the typical Capitalist. Arthur is the greedy fat cat, Sybil is the snob, Eric is the drunk who thinks money and prestige entitle him to act any way he chooses, Sheila is the jealous one for whom money could never be enough and Gerald is the social climber using a loveless marriage to advance his business interests. I like the way the play takes place in one place and during one night. I think it adds something to it. I love the way it builds up tension at the end of each act although you could easily call this cliché by modern-day standards. Finally and by far most importantly, the end is superb. I think it is a fantastic way to end a fantastic play and it is possibly my favourite twist ending ever.

An excellent plan combining subtle and blatent symbolism well with memorable characters, a strong message and a freaking genius twist ending.



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