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Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Priestley’s An Inspector Calls have strong messages for the reader.

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Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Priestley's An Inspector Calls have strong messages for the reader. Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" in 1843 in the form of a novel, it was very successful and is still popular today. The play "An Inspector Calls," was written in 1945 by J.B Priestly and was set in 1912. These two texts are similar as they both convey a message that we should follow and live by. The author's views are quite similar as they both refer to middle class and working class in socialist terms. Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 to aware people of the homeless children living in terrible conditions. In the same year he visited Field Lane Ragged School that taught the poorest children of the time to read and write. Dickens was appalled at the terrible conditions and was also deeply shocked by a parliamentary report by the Children's Employment Commission. To get his socialist views across he first decided to write a pamphlet called, "An Appeal To The People Of England On Behalf Of The Poor Mans Child," but then decided to write a novel as he was the most popular novelist at the time and therefore he would be more successful. A Christmas Carol was published on the 17th of December 1843 and by the 24th of December it had sold 6,000 copies. It is still a popular novel today and appears in many versions for the young and the old. The word "Scrooge" has also become a word used widely in the English language meaning, "A miserly or mean person." In the first stave Dickens characterises Scrooge as a lonely, cold-hearted miser. To describe Scrooge he uses effective listing techniques, for example he describes him as, A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!" this makes the reader instantly dislike Scrooge as the "ing," in each word emphasises it and brings the word to life by making them more dramatic. ...read more.


It also brings up the theory that in our lives there are significant moments where decisions we make can lead to disaster or salvation. This links to the decisions made by the characters in the play and the extraordinary person who changes their lives is the Inspector. We can compare Priestley to Dickens as they both had similar socialist views and A Christmas Carol was written on the same basis as Ouspensky's theory. An Inspector Calls is set in Edwardian England where Priestley's characters are involved with the social conditions of the time, for example; Mr Birling, an ignorant capitalist and Eva Smith, a vivid example of the fate of many young women living in poverty at that time. Historians refer to Edwardian England as when "class divisions were never so acutely felt," which was never truer as 87% of the country's total personal wealth was in the hands of 5% of the population. At this time Trade Unionism was in its very early stages and therefore workers had very few rights or protection meaning that a worker was at the mercy of his or her employer. Women's wages were, on average, half that of men's meaning they had to get by on less than half of 25 shillings a week. As a consequence peoples growth was stunted, their mental powers were cramped and their health was undermined. London was compared to other cities of Europe where, "nowhere is there such squalor, such pinching poverty, so many undersized, so many plainly and revolting diseased, so much human rottenness." In the opening scene of "An Inspector Calls," Priestley describes the Birling's house as, "large," "suburban," "belonging to a prosperous manufacturer," and that it is "heavily comfortable but not cosy and homelike," these as well as the cigars, champagne glasses and decanter of port reflect a rich and upper class life style for the Birlings. The position of Mr Birling and his wife at the table tell us that they are the eldest and supposedly most respected of the family as they are at the head and foot of the table. ...read more.


In both texts there are differences, the obvious being that one is a novel and one is a play. This variation effects how the messages are conveyed; "A Christmas Carol," shows the message clearly, and goes into more detail about characters emotions. "An Inspector Calls," illustrates the message in a less obvious way and leaves the audience thinking more about its message. The characters emotions can only really be displayed when acting which would give the audience a much clearer image. The more realistic of the two is, "An Inspector Calls," because it contains less of the supernatural which makes it easier to believe. "A Christmas Carol," could be called a fairytale, as the idea of ghosts and spirits is very unrealistic. Scrooge changes his attitudes through out the novel and is a totally different person from the beginning to the end. This can be said for the younger members of the Birling family; Sheila and Eric both feel wrong and guilty. They too, plan to change how they behave and act. Nevertheless, Mr Birling and Mrs Birling show no signs of changing their capitalist beliefs and they don't plan to act any differently than before. This gives them totally different impacts as well as the fact that, "A Christmas Carol," ends in a conclusive, positive fashion; Scrooge has changed from a miser to a kind-hearted gentleman and everyone's happy. "An Inspector Calls," on the other hand, ends in an open, more negative way; a woman dies and some members don't feel responsible. The most successful in encouraging change, I think is "An Inspector Calls," as it is more realistic; there is a less supernatural theme and the characters show strong symbolism of people in that time. It accurately reflects the lives of the different individuals in the play and it shows bluntly yet truthfully, the differences between the social classes. It also ends on a negative note, which adds to the harsh truth of reality and makes a bigger impression on the audience. 1 ...read more.

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