An Inspector Calls was first performed in London in 1946, just after World War II. Priestley uses his knowledge of the reality of two world conflicts to cast shadows over the genteel house of the social-climbing Birlings in 1912.
When the play is set. Other real historical events and ideas, such as the sinking of the Titanic, the General Strike of 1926, the rise of Fascism, technological advances and the debate over individual and social responsibility are referred to through the play and add an element of realism.
"We don‟t live alone. We are members of one body.‟ So states Inspector Goole in his final speech. His character can be seen as a device to voice Priestley‟s views about social responsibility.
Why are Mr and Mrs Birling so much more concerned about the potential for “public scandal” than the consequences of their behaviour? Sheila and Eric Birling represent the future due to their young age.
The First World War would start in two years. Birling's optimistic view that there would not be a war is completely wrong.
The Second World War ended in Europe on 8 May 1945. People were recovering from nearly six years of warfare, danger and uncertainty.
The Setting and Lighting are very important. Priestley describes the scene in detail at the opening of Act 1, so that the audience has the immediate impression of a heavily comfortable house.The setting is constant (all action happens in the same place). Priestley says that the lighting should be "pink and intimate"before the Inspector arrives - a rose-tinted glow - when it becomes "brighter and harder." The lighting reflects the mood of the play.
There is dramatic irony. For instance, the audience knows how wrong Mr Birling is when he makes confident predictions about there not being a war and is excited about the sailing of The Titanic: famously, the ship sank on her maiden voyage. This puts the audience at an advantage over the characters and makes us more involved. There is a lot of tension as each member of the family is found to have played a part in Eva's death.
There are numerous changes in tone. For instance, Mr Birling's confidence is soon replaced, first by self-justification as he tries to explain his part in Eva's death, and then by anxiety. Timing of entrances and exits is crucial. For example, the Inspector arrives…