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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.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 21
  1. Marked by a teacher

    Describe the importance of Sheila's role in the play An inspector calls.

    5 star(s)

    She constantly changes and develops as the Story is told. From a happy normal women whose about to get married, changing stance with knowledge of the affair becoming disappointed and heart broken and then finding out that she had contributed to the Eva Smiths death making her emotions dramatic and to the audience she is the thoughtful character that everyone loves. There is great irony in Sheila's character as when the Inspector first comes round and as he is questioning Birling, she says how mean he is like "I think it was a mean thing to do" and "But these girls aren't cheap labour- there people" which is her having

    • Word count: 674
  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Priestley explore the theme of social responsibility in his play An Inspector Calls?

    4 star(s)

    For example, early in the play Mr. Birling states: "I speak as a hard headed businessman...for lower costs and higher prices..." This shows he is willing to put his business profits before the welfare of other people. The opening section of the play is a starting point for Priestley's exploration as he uses Mr. Birling as a generic paradigm of the senseless and corrupt bourgeoisie everywhere. This is because the writer's message is also his socialist ideal - we should use our powers in society in a sensible manner as even the most seemingly insignificant actions can lead to the suffering of others.

    • Word count: 971
  3. Marked by a teacher

    How does priestly make 'an inspector calls' a dramatic play?

    4 star(s)

    Dramatic irony is used to reveal Mr Birling's character in Act1. "Some people say that war is inevitable. To that I say fiddlesticks." Judging from when the play was written and when it was set, it is clear to the audience that Priestly is showing Mr Birling to be an ignorant man who is soon to be proven wrong in his theory. Priestly creates a dramatic moment in a hysterical outburst from Sheila. "Why- you fool- he knows. Of course he knows." Sheila is the first person to realise the inspector's game and is the only person, at this point, who understands his reasons.

    • Word count: 974
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Inspector Calls essay. Act 2. In what ways does Priestley make this such a dramatic and significant moment in the play?

    3 star(s)

    Priestly showing Shelia's greater understanding of the situation unlike her mother who seems to still be in belief that she "...done nothing wrong."It is conveyed that Mrs Birling sees Sheila and Eric still as "children" and speaks patronisingly to them. She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe: Eric's drinking, Gerald's affair with Eva, and the fact that a working class girl would refuse money even if it was stolen, claiming "She was giving herself ridiculous airs."She admits she was "prejudiced" against the girl who applied to her committee for help and saw it as her "duty" to refuse to help her.

    • Word count: 809
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Mr Birling Act 1

    3 star(s)

    He is concerned with his social standing and is, as the modern audience would call him, a snob. He is convinced he is going to get a knighthood and doesn't want any scandal to get in the way of it, "'there's a fair chance I might find my way into the next Honours List." This becomes more and more ironic as the play unfolds, as the audience begins to learn of the story that Mr Birling started. Birling sees himself as superior to many, especially the Inspector. "Well, if you don't mind. I'll find out first." When the Inspector claims he will find out the reason why Sheila ran out of the room, Birling must take a higher stand.

    • Word count: 842
  6. Marked by a teacher

    Inspector calls attiudes towards women

    3 star(s)

    At the beginning of the play Sheila acts in a materialistic and stereotypical manner. An example of this is when she receives the ring from Gerald she states "it's perfect now I really feel engaged". This implies that the physical gift is the most important aspect which is an immature attitude towards marriage. In addition Sheila becomes upset and overwhelmed quite often, it is a stereotypical view of women to be oversensitive .This can be seen when the comment is passed to Sheila "you're behaving like a hysterical child tonight".

    • Word count: 861
  7. Marked by a teacher

    An inspector calls - How does Priestly present the character of the Inspector?

    3 star(s)

    And has also wrote the Inspector is meant to be like "He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period. He speaks carefully, weightily and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking." The inspector has a way of getting information out of each member of the family even by using quite harsh words on them. I believe that the inspector meant to be seen as someone who has no time for the people he talks to and is shown when gets impatient with Mr Birling as he says "Don't stammer and yammer at me again man.

    • Word count: 594
  8. Marked by a teacher

    Mr. Birling and Sheila assignment on how they treated Eva Smith.

    3 star(s)

    He is proud of his status and is a social climber. He sees him & wife as upholding 'right' values and as guardians of 'proper' conduct. Mr. Birling welcomes Gerald Croft into his family as he represents a business link between his firm and that of Gerald Croft's father (a rival). He has an honest approach to life, he tells the Inspector that he wouldn't listen to Eva Smith's demand for a wage rise, 'I refused, of course' and is surprised why anyone should question why. Mr. Birling strongly believes that 'a man has to make his own way.'

    • Word count: 955
  9. Marked by a teacher

    What Is The Dramatic Importance Of Inspector Goole's Character In Priestly's 'An Inspector Calls' And What Things Would A Director Need To Consider When Casting This Role

    3 star(s)

    A director would have to consider this when casting the role. Inspector Goole has a great presence, 'he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'. Inspector Goole dominates the situation from the start and is not intimidated by Mr. Birling, Gerald Groft or anyone else in the family. Inspector Goole is always in control, '(taking charge masterfully)', he dominates the proceedings though-out the play, '(cooly, looking hard at him)', this also shows that Inspector Goole is not intimidated by anybody in the family and is in total control all the time.

    • Word count: 768

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent is each character responsible for Eva's death?

    "In conclusion the inspector was a very good role model not just for the audience, but also for the Birling children. Mr Birling was the most responsible for Eva's death as he harmed her first. There were two people that learnt a lot, they were Sheila and Eric Birling. This is because they were able to communicate with the inspector and understand what he said, the inspector may make them change in the future as they are both able to make up their own minds and understand when they have made mistakes. They try to help their parents understand what they have done to Eva and how they caused her to commit suicide. Sheila and Eric will be able to learn from their parent's mistakes, as they are the younger generation. 4"

  • An Inspector Calls Essay - To what extent can the tragedy of Eva Smith be blamed on the society in which she lived.

    "In conclusion to the death of Eva Smith, I don't believe you can blame any of the Birlings as such, as it was also related to social activities that took place in such a short time of Eva's life. If all the strife she went through didn't happen, then I don't believe that Eva smith would have killed herself. So in conclusion, Eva smith's death has to be blamed on a chain of events that unfortunately and unthinkingly happened at the wrong time of her life."

  • Compare and contrast the characters of Mr. Birling and inspector Goole. How does Priestley use dramatic devices to help shape audiences response to view represented in the play.

    "In conclusion Birling and the Inspector are two opposite characters priestley used birling and his views as the audience and the inspector as himself hoping he could change their views as it would help society. Priestly was getting across to the audience the message that, at the end of the day everyone's got to help with society or else all of us will die. Therefore the message is still relevant today "we do not live alone"."

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