An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley


And so we have my final Blogtober post, and thirtieth review of the month. I chose An Inspector Calls for my Halloween post despite it being neither a book nor a horror story. It’s a ghost-story play, and for various reasons it is my favourite. I’m hoping to go and see it in London with my brother at the end of the year (I haven’t asked him but the dynamic of big sister little brother is that I can make these kinds of decisions).

First performed in 1945, An Inspector Calls is set in an upper class drawing room owned by the Burlings in 1912. The family are celebrating their daughter’s engagement and talk about the importance of looking out for themselves in life and business. The evening is interrupted by an inspector who brings news of a young woman’s suicide and slowly reveals the involvement of the people in the room.

I describe An Inspector Calls as a ghost story because it’s heavily implied, but never confirmed, that the supernatural is involved in the experience. The inspector’s name is Goole, and he plays a sort of omnipresent part in the play. I think the degree in which he is interpreted as a ghostly visitor depends on the production (the recent televised BBC adaptation went very full on with the ghost theory). 

For me it’s a bit more than just a ghost story or a drawing room drama, which I have alluded to in the past. It’s quite a bold comment on how the upper classes treat the working class, for 1945, but also how our behaviour has consequences far beyond what we expect. 

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