The Character that Changes the Most in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley
In the essay I will try to answer the question of, ‘Which character
changes the most in An Inspector Calls?’ I will do this by; explaining
the role played by the character in the play; showing how and why I
think they change; focusing on the effect on the audience by the stage
directions and settings; showing what messages Priestly manages to get
across to the audience in 1946 through his play. To do that I will
· The importance of social responsibility – especially of those in
superior social position.
· The effects of the characters actions over time.
He began writing plays in the 30s and 40s. He wrote, or
co-wrote 40 different plays in total. Most of them gave hints about
his heavily socialist views. He travelled through some of the poorer
parts of Britain, which helped him to refine his political ideas.
You are given hints in ‘An Inspector Calls’ about Priestly’s socialist
views. He uses Inspector Goole as his median. He makes moralising
comments such as, “A pretty, lively sort of girl, who never did anyone
any harm. But she died in misery and agony – hating life”. His last
speech is also very moralising, “But just remember this. One Eva Smith
has gone, but there are millions and 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 out lives, and 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 will
not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and
anguish. Good night”.
These moralising comments hit the audience hard with feelings of guilt
for what is happening to all the ‘Eva Smiths and John Smiths in the
world’, which is what Priestly is trying to achieve.
Sheila and her younger brother are added into the play to show the
contrast of the younger and older generations of the era. The older
characters, Arthur and Sybil, have solid views that they will not
change, or even think about changing. They are stubborn with their
opinions and possibly even ignorant. Whereas Eric and Sheila’s views
change from also being stubborn and ignorant just like their parents,
to their own ones. They feel guilty for the chain of events, but
Arthur and Sybil do not. This shows that the younger generation are
hope for the future and are open to new ideas, unlike the older
generation, who are trenched in their own opinions and ideas. Arthur
and Sybil’s views are almost of a nationalist nature, which Priestly
disagrees with. This is why he wants to show in his play that the
younger generation are becoming more socialist in their outlook.
At the beginning of the play, Sheila seems to be young and innocent.
Sheila is described as ‘very pleased with life and rather excited’ in
the stage directions. You can tell that she is changing throughout the
play by what she says. At the beginning of the play she has a bit of
playful banter at the dinner table, “I should jolly well think not,
Gerald, I’d hate you to know all about port – like one of those
purple-faced old men” This shows the audience that she is young and
teasing. She also says to Eric, “You’re squiffy” This also shows that
she uses word that a person of her age would use, and is not too