Inspector Calls - Britain in 1912

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  • Britain in 1912
    • The play takes place over the course of one evening in 1912.
      • 'An Inspector Calls' is set in Britain in Spring 1912 - 2 years before the outbreak of World War One.
      • The pre-war period was a time of prosperity for the upper and middle classes, whereas the working class were struggling to make ends meet.
        • The inequality in the class system was very pronounced at this time, which made it easier for Priestly to point out it's flaws.
      • Although the events of the play are fictional, the dialogue refers to real-life events, like the Titanic and the miners strike.
        • Referring to real historical events makes the setting and context clearer for the audience as well as making the world of the play more believable.
    • The context of the play will affect choices about costume and set design. In a naturalistic production, designers might take inspiration from the fashions and styles of 1912 to make it more authentic.
    • The play is set in Brumley - a fictional town in the Midlands.
      • Although the town is fictional, its based on real industrial towns of the era. In 1912, cities like this would have had factories and thousands of terraced houses for all of the factory workers.
    • Britain was a very different place in 1912.
      • In the early 20th Century, British society was divided into three classes - the upper class, the middle class and the working class.
      • Only Men who owned property could vote, which meant that working class people didn't have a voice. Women couldn't vote it elections at all.
      • A boom in industry during the 19th Century, meant there was a demand for cheap labour in factories and industries like mining and shipbuilding. Often these jobs were dangerous and difficult with long hours.
        • However things were starting to change. In 1900, the Labour Party was formed to represent the interests of the working class and in 1912, over a million workers campaigned for fairer wages for miners - this was known as the National Miners Strike.
    • There was little help for people in need.
      • During the 19th Century, the upper and middle classes categorized people living in poverty as either 'deserving' or 'undeserving' of help.
        • The 'deserving' poor were people who were seen to have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own - perhaps through illness or old age.
        • The 'undeserving' poor were people who, in the eyes of the wealthy, faced hardship because of their own bad choices - laziness or drunkness.
      • Charities were set up for people who were thought to deserve help. It was common for charities to interview the people who came to them for help - a panel would then decide  whether the applicant deserved the help that they were asking for.
        • In the play, Sybil Birling sits on the board for one f these charities. She convinces the committee to refuse Evas request for help.


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