An evaluation of 'An Inspector Calls' as an expression of J.B. Priestley's Socialist principles. The narration focuses on the relevance of the play being set in 1912, a time that represented the exact opposite of what people were hoping for in 1945. Some of the characters in the play and what they represent are looked at. Eva Smith is representative of the working classes and Gerald Croft the aristocracy. These close textual references run alongside primary footage from the period to illustrate the social and political influences behind the play.
This clip can be used to introduce students to the concepts of social class and Socialism. These can then be used to understand the play in greater depth. Students may need to do some prior background research on what Socialism is. Students can use a pyramid template to try and rank the characters into a hierarchy, in terms of their class status and power in the play. Where do students position the Inspector? What comment was Priestley making about such a class divided society? How would his Socialist beliefs have influenced his views, on how society needed to change, or was already changing?
Can be used to investigate the central message (or coda) of the play. Students are divided into small groups so that they can make notes about specific issues raised in the clip eg The Titanic, 1912: the setting, hopes in 1945, bosses, workers, aristocracy, working class, the theatrical production in the clip etc. Students then swap their own mind-maps with another group. Members of this group try to attach meaning, ideas from the play, quotes, references to events in the play etc. The process of swapping continues, until students receive their original notes on the clip, but with annotations added by their classmates. Finally, can students collate these notes into a paragraph, about what they think is the central message of the play?