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GCSE: J.B. Priestley

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John Boynton Priestley's biography

  1. 1 He was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He left school at sixteen because he believed that the world outside the classroom would help him become a writer. He said that it was the years 1911-14 ‘that set their stamp upon me’.
  2. 2 When World War One broke out in 1914, Priestley joined the infantry and by the time he left the army in 1919, he had seen active front-line service and narrowly escaped being killed. These experiences were to influence his future writing.
  3. 3 When he left the army he went to Cambridge University and although he finished his degree, he did not like academia and went to London to work as a freelance writer.
  4. 4 He soon became a successful writer of essays and novels and in 1932 he wrote his first play Dangerous Corner to prove that he could adapt his style for the stage. He soon established himself as a leading figure in the London theatre.
  5. 5 When World War Two broke out in 1939 Priestley continued to write his plays, while also writing and broadcasting on BBC radio. During this time he was producing his best work and wrote An Inspector Calls (1945) about the effects of an individual’s actions and the consequences of those actions.

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  1. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly I have chosen Sheila and Mr Birling for my two characters because they are completely different from each other and the events which take place in the play change them both in different ways

    She is first seen as a happy young woman in her family dining room on the evening of her engagement. The changes these two characters undergo reflect their own personalities and characters but it also represents how people in a modern day society can be so self centred and not have any decent moral responsibility of thinking for other people and how one persons actions or thoughts for another can make a massive difference to how they think of themselves, and how it could affect their future life.

    • Word count: 757
  2. How Does Priestley Establish Birling's Character Prior To The Arrival Of The Inspector

    After this, Birling has his first long speech in which we realise that this marriage is not really between Gerald and Sheila, but Crofts Limited and Birling & Company - "are no longer competing but are working together." With this, Priestley shows us that Birling thinks about himself and business, rather than his daughter and son-in-law-to-be. As well as this, we realise that Birling does not really care about the wedding as long as his business is joined with Crofts Limited.

    • Word count: 774
  3. Ryan Brooke 10AR Wednesday 14th December '05

    When he enters he shows strength which probably makes the Birlings and Gerald answer his questions so thoroughly . Another dramatic function of the Inspector is that he likes to do his job properly. This is shown most when Mr. Birling offers him a drink of whiskey and then replies "No, thank you Mr. Birling. I'm on duty." Also, while doing his job properly he keeps to the same technique and keeps his inquiry lines short. "I'd like some information if you don't mind."

    • Word count: 886
  4. An Inspector Calls was written in the 1940's and was set in 1912

    The audience knows this, this is dramatic irony. In a way the audience has an advantage over Birling. Priestly wants the audience to have this advantage so the irony actually has an effect. Also, at the time the play was performed, the Second World War had already commenced. The example of the Titanic also works really well, as Birling is trying to make a point, when in reality he is wrong. He is so sure that his opinions are the true facts when all they truly are, are his opinions.

    • Word count: 570
  5. How do J B Priestley's dramatic methods explain the historical and social content of the play 'An Inspector Calls' in the opening scenes?

    i think that Priestley wanted to make the most of these changes. Through the play he encourages people to take the opportunity that the end of the war had given them to build a better and more caring society and not to make the same mistakes again. The style of the play seems at the beginning to be straight forward, a detective thriller. After the Birlings family celebrations with Gerald Croft are understood, the inspector arrives with the death by suicide of Eva Smith. The effects of the play, the lighting of soft warm colours for the family celebration and then the bright harsh lighting when the inspector comes, increases the tension

    • Word count: 774
  6. The two scenes that I have chosen for this assignment are when the inspector is introduced and talks to the other characters, and when the inspector disappears from stage (end). I have chosen these two scenes because

    The inspector enters and immediately Mr. Birling presumes that he needs a document signed and tells him to pass it over, the inspector then explains to them the suicide. Mr. Birling is confused and asks why the inspector is investigating a suicide, He shows a photograph to Mr. Birling and starts questioning him. It turns out that Eva Smith had been one of Mr. Birling's employees and later on was discharged because she asked for more money, had been refused & went on a strike (as one of the ringleaders).

    • Word count: 917
  7. To what degree do you think that Sheila and Eric's actions are the results of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents?

    Even though her and Gerald are engaged, just the fact that she has the ring for it completely changes how she acts. Another thing, and in my opinion hugely influenced by Mrs. Birling, is Sheila's treatment of Eva Smith at Milwards. Simply out of jealousy, and the fact that she could do it, Sheila tells the manager that "this girl had been very impertinent", and threatens to never come back and close her account with the store if the girl is not fired.

    • Word count: 973
  8. Explain how Sheila Birling's character changes in the play 'An inspector calls' how does the audience know that Sheila has changed and learnt an important lesson?

    Sheila is a very spoilt, rude, jealous & unkind woman at the start of the play and it obviously having problems with Gerald. The audience know this because she is talking about all last summer when Gerald never came near her; she jokes about an affair, but never brings it any further. The audience at this point will think she is either a bit too protected by her parents to know what the signs of a cheating man are, or she is pretending she doesn't know so she can get the ring.

    • Word count: 524
  9. What function does Inspector Goole play in "An Inspector Calls"

    He is made also to be a tough character by first when he first comes in there are stage directions which show the lighting to be pink and intimate then when the inspector arrives it is written to be brighter and harder. Secondly whenever he talks doesn't go on and on, he talks straight to the point. For example where he says, "No. She wanted to end her life"," She wasn't pretty when I saw her today, but...." and " (sharply)

    • Word count: 700
  10. My opinion of the Birlings changed in Act 1 because the inspector chooses to interrogate them individually and in chronological order to how they play a part in Eva's death

    The use of dramatic irony early n in the play makes Mr Birling seem stupid. For example he says the ship 'Titanic' is 'Unsinkable' and the audience know that it is sinkable because it has sunk, another time is when he talks about world war one and that it will never happen but kicks off two years later. After Birling has said this it gives the audience an advantage over the characters and this gets them more involved. In Act One it says there should be a change in lighting from 'Pink and intimate' to 'brighter and harder'.

    • Word count: 883
  11. How does JB Priestley create tension for the audience in 'An Inspector Calls'?

    This is why the play is still relevant today and attracts as many audiences now as the play "An Inspector Calls" did in the late 1940's. My essay will show the role of the inspector, 'Inspector Goole' and how Priestly puts across his views. The play 'An Inspector Calls', is about the Birling family, who are quite well off, and they are celebrating their daughters engagement with her 'to be' husband, Gerald. The father is happy that his daughter is getting married to him as Gerald's father is the owner of a company who Birling would like to have closer to him.

    • Word count: 996
  12. I considerably agree with the quote, that real life seems to have no plots. To be more precise, from my reading of this anthology, The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, I find that stories do not always represent reality

    We judge characters according to how closely they approximate our own moral code. We know that if they are close to it, they will win, and if they are far from it, they will be defeated. For example, in "The Gold of Thomas Vargas", the death of Thomas seems to be very reasonable due to his irresponsible and selfish personalities, and that the final victory of poor, miserable Concha is also under our expectation. On the contrary, in real life situations, the powerful evil ones rather than being defeated by fate, they often end up having more power, whereas the kindhearted ones do not always receive the paybacks they should.

    • Word count: 589
  13. Personally, I feel that Priestley introduced his views and ideas through Goole well, but the ending was very confusing. When looking at how Goole structures the play I noticed how well the play comes

    Inspector Goole takes the role of a police detective. This role is enforced by the tone Goole speaks in and the phrases he uses. "I'd like some information if you don't mind." This information is spoken in act one to Mr Birling in a firm tone often perceived as a policeman or detective. The name Goole is a parody of 'Ghoul' meaning spirit. Goole takes on the role as a spiritual confessor so his name fits well. Goole asks simple leading questions to receive the information he wants.

    • Word count: 864
  14. How might stagecraft serve to emphasize the divisions in society? In the Daldry version of 'An Inspector Calls', stagecraft plays a vital

    Birling thinks people should work individually; like the house own its own, above everything. Below the house are a few young children dressed in ragged clothing, looking like poor people of a low class, living on the streets. This shows the audience that although the lower-class lived parallel to the upper-class, they lived completely different lives. This suggests that the society may be capitalist. It suggests this because capitalism is known to cause extremes; the poor being extremely poor, and the rich being extremely rich.

    • Word count: 787
  15. Explore the ways in which the opening of "an inspector calls" sets the scene and prepares the audience for the downfall of the Birlings and Gerald Croft

    I think that the detective thrillers influenced Priestley to write "an inspector calls". Most detective thrillers, in those days involved one body, six suspects and an inspector, they then try to find out who done it. These types of plays are called morality plays. J.B Priestley fought in World War I and had experienced life in trenches, which where hell, and was a victim of a gas attack.

    • Word count: 469
  16. In an Inspector calls how has Priestly shown the role of Inspector Goole? How effective is his character?

    The Birling family is celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald. Mr B is giving Gerald Eric a good talk when the doorbell rings. The Inspector enters the room; "He creates at once an impression of massiveness". The Inspector sits down and informs them that a girl has committed suicide her name, Eva Smith. The Inspector starts to question Mr B. Mr B confesses to firing Eva Smith from his works;"she was one of my employees then I discharged her".

    • Word count: 581
  17. In Act one of 'An Inspector Calls' how J.B.Priestly uses dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the audience, as well as interest and involve them in his play?

    The year 1945 was also an important date because at that time the war had subsided and had left a trail of learning & regret behind them. This may suggest that the play was set in that year in which Priestly was trying to preach a message to the converted rather than allow his play to be judged with an audience. The play was set to show the audiences of the sufferings before World War 1 in 1912 and gave the audience the power of retrospection of knowing what would happen after the play.

    • Word count: 967
  18. How does J. B. Priestly ensure that the audience has formed an opinion of Mr. Birling before the Inspector enters?

    Their maid, Edna, is replacing these items with cigars, cigarettes and a decanter of Port. This shows that Mr Birling is wealthy and can afford luxuries and does not hesitate to show off. In the stage directions we are told that their room 'has good solid furniture...but is not cosy and homelike.' It has no antique furniture that shows that Mr Birling has only recently acquired his money and has not inherited any family heirlooms. Mr Birling sees himself as a 'hard-headed businessman' and 'I speak a s a hard-headed practical man of business' whose opinion is important and that he is always right.

    • Word count: 722
  19. How does Priestley use the Inspector to create tension in "An Inspector Calls"

    It is set in around 1912-13, just before the 1st World War and is a mystery/whodunit play. It has a sort of subliminal message about the way the upper-class people of Wells' time treated the lower-class people of that time. To add to that, throughout the play but mainly toward the end of the play the Inspector abuses his power over the Birlings insulting them and 'taking the mickey' whenever he gets the chance. What's more is that right the way through the play the audience knows more than the characters do, this is something called dramatic irony. The Inspector describes Eva's death very freely.

    • Word count: 587
  20. An Inspector Calls: Essay

    Priestly uses an array of different dramatic devices to influence the audience. He uses dramatic irony very early on in the play, in the form of Mr. Birling's speech. Birling talks about the Titanic, and how it is 'unsinkable'; and about how there was absolutely no chance of war. Both of these statements are ironic because the Titanic does sink and there are two wars to come! Another dramatic device used is the change in lighting. At the start of the play the lighting is 'pink and intimate', this changes to 'brighter and harder' lighting when the Inspector arrives.

    • Word count: 921
  21. Scene: Eva Smith walks into a charity committee room. Mrs Birling and a member of the organisation are sat at a desk. Eva is upset and holding her stomach. Mrs Birling: How may I help you? Eva Smith: I need some help madam.

    I need some help! Head of Committee: So your definitely sure that the father of the of your unborn baby is your husband's? Eva Smith: Yes. Mrs Birling: So Mrs Birling, How did you come across that name? Eva Smith: That's the surname of my husband. Why do you ask? Mrs Birling: It's just funny how you have the same name as the head of charity. Tell me more about your husband. Eva Smith: Oh well I don't really no what to say, we wasn't exactly married as such but I always looked at him as my husband.

    • Word count: 612
  22. In 1944/1945 J.B Priestly, who a was patriotic socialist wrote 'An Inspector Calls'. The play focuses on moral and political messages not just the ordinary characters and storyline. The play is set in 1912, before the First World War.

    Birling and the audience. The dramatic irony makes the audience look differently towards Mr. Birling. Mr. Birling says "I say there isn't a chance of war" then he says "The world's developing so fast that it'll make was impossible". He also goes on to say that the Titanic is "Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." This makes the audience feel they cannot trust Mr. birling or his judgement because they know that 2 World Wars did happen and that the Titanic did sink. Thus creating dramatic irony. The significance of the lighting at the start of the play is important into influencing that audience.

    • Word count: 715
  23. An Inspector Calls

    I will be using quotes and stage actions to show the relationship between Arthur and Eric. At the start of the play, when the inspector had arrived and was talking to Arthur about Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, Eric was constantly accusing Arthur and telling him that what he did was bad and he shouldn't have done that, and this is evident as Eric had said, 'He (Arthur) could have kept her (Eva Smith) on instead of throwing her out' (pg.15). Here all Eric was doing was making Mr Birling (Arthur) feel guilty. This proves one of my points where I had mentioned about Mr Birling and Eric having a weak relationship, because normally in a situation like this a son would be doing his best to sort out a problem his father has.

    • Word count: 717
  24. Analyse J.B. Preistly's Presentation of Inspector Goole in 'An Inspector Calls'

    He is also pointing out Preistly's message by saying that the old order views from Arthur Birling about how everybody should look after themselves and not care about any other problems in the world accept your own. The way that Preistly does this is by contrasting Inspector Goole and Arthur Birling for example the Inspector is cool, calm and collected, Arthur Birling has to always have his wits about him and always try to be right. My first impressions of the Inspector are that he is an important character to the play and solving the mystery of who killed Daisy Renton, but I didn't think that he would have any thing to do with the message.

    • Word count: 783
  25. In Act one of 'An Inspector Calls', how does J.B Priestly use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience as well as interest and involve them in his play?

    The story opens up with the arrival of Inspector Goole and when he starts asking the characters questions. However, he is much more than just an inspector. Priestly uses him to reveal the moral conscience of the characters and the responsibilities that they have. The play was first performed in 1945, but it is set in 1912. Priestly has done this for a reason. It is important that he has done this as it allows him to use dramatic irony. This is where he can use something in his play which the audience will know about but the characters wont.

    • Word count: 985

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