on 31 May 2001
This York Notes guide to J.B. Priestley's "An Inspector Calls" is a useful analysis of the play. The guide is divided into five sections namely, Introduction, Summaries, Commentary, Study Skills, and Cutlural Connections.
Part One, Introduction, provides a brief guide to the study of a play before giving a detailed outline of J.B. Priestley. This section then details the context and setting of the play, examining such aspects as the industrial setting, the influence of money, social status, and the historical background of the play. Although this latter component could be more detailed it provides useful information for students and teachers.
Part Two, Summaries, features a general outline of the play before providing a detailed summary of each act. This section is most useful because the author, John Scicluna, has analysed the play in small sections. For example, pages 1-7 of the play (referring to the Heinemann Plays edition 1992) is considered through a plot outline, an analysis, and a glossary. Eye-catching illustrations complement the text. Occassionally, a useful quiz is included in this section for review purposes.
Part Three, Commentary, elaborates on such components as themes (social message, morality, political view, responsibility, love, and time), structure, characters, language and style. This section is appropriate and useful, particularly since the guide refers to page numbers in the play text. However, the discussion on themes could be more detailed in its scope.
Part Four, Study Skills, gives valuable advice concerning the use of quotations, writing advice, sample essay plans and questions.
Part Five, Cultural Connections, attempts to place "An Inspector Calls" within a broader literary framework. This section refers to the use of time in such films as "Back to the Future" and "Groundhog Day" and compares them to Priestley's notion of time.
The guide also features a glossary of literary terms, and quiz answers.
This guide is certainly useful for any literary student but as a playtext is meant to be performed, some consideration of the theatricality and dramatic style of the play would be a useful addition. Whilst it is not necessary to have access to the Heinemann edition of the play to make full use of this guide, it does certainly help.
This guide is a appropriate for anyone who is studying the play but secondary students and their teachers will benefit most from this York Notes publication.