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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
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    EVA Smith's DIARY ENTRIES

    4 star(s)

    The slimy, good for nothing, weasel, he made it sound as if he had no choice. Well I suppose there's no point wallowing in the past, what's done is done and I'm not going to make things better by being bitter about it. I've got to stay optimistic and look to the future, even though the future is uncertain. There's no benefit system for girls like me, another fault of society. I suppose I'll just have to make my own way in life, just as always. Saturday 4th December 1910, I've some tremendous news! I've just been employed at Millwards.

    • Word count: 2060
  2. An Inspector Calls. Explore how Priestley portrays Sheilas role in the play and how she reacts positively to the Inspector and his message.

    Just before the ring bells and the inspector arrives, Mr. Birling shows his outlook on life to Gerald and Eric "a man has to make his own way, has to look after himself and his family". The inspector enters and tells them about the suicide. He shows a photograph to Mr.Birling. and starts questioning him. It turns out that Eva Smith had been one of Mr.Birlings. employees and later on was discharged because she asked for more money, had been refused and went on a strike along with allot of other employees, and was later fired for being one of the ringleaders.

    • Word count: 2701
  3. In my essay I am going to look at how much moral responsibility the characters in An Inspector Calls accept for the death of Eva Smith/ Daisy Renton and also how the characters reflect the period the play was set in.

    Priestley uses the characters in "An Inspector Calls" to criticize attitudes of the society by showing how the upper class looked down on the lower class like the way Mr. and Mrs. Birling did to Eva. Mr. Birling uses his authority to get Eva sacked from his company. Sheila had used her power to get Eva fired. Gerald was overwhelmed by fear and left her just because she was not from the same class. Eric had used his power to use Eva as a prostitute and Mrs.

    • Word count: 2894
  4. In act 1 of An inspector calls how does Priestley convey his concerns and ideas to the audience?

    He focuses his themes on the major dilemmas of which happened in post Victorian and pre-World War 1 Britain. The Birlings are, on the fa�ade a picturesque family, but they are over indulgent and abuse money by continuously opting for the more expensive things in life. Apart from the obvious theme of class system, I personally believe that one of the main theme is religion, well the lack of. The Birlings are enjoying some port ''Giving us the port Edna?'' suggests the consumption of blood due to the wine being of a deep red colour, thus it resembles the truth that the family are devilish and are murderous without being aware of their crimes and are possessed with an evil spirit or have lost all sense of morality due to money becoming their topmost passion instead of God .

    • Word count: 2718
  5. An Inspector Calls. The play has many dramatic moments, explore these in relation to how the conflict in the play shows morality and responsibility

    Sheila enters the room very happily not noticing the arrival of the Inspector and is not aware of the tension between the inspector and her father. Sheila at the start of the play has no major concerns except her own issues with the marriage between herself and Gerald she seems to be dandy. 'What was she like quite young? ... Pretty' at hearing the news of Eva smiths death Sheila does show concern and empathy however she questions the inspector about her age also whether she was pretty making it seem that Sheila is only concerned with appearance and looks and that only those aspects of life are important to her.

    • Word count: 2816
  6. How does J.B Priestley lay foundations for the downfall of the Birling Household within Act 1 of An Inspector Calls?

    Another one of the problems with Birling is his poor judgment as it renders the family really rather vulnerable against things in the future that are unpredictable. "We're in for a long period of increasing prosperity" he says. However, again, through the median of dramatic irony the audience knows that as the play is set in 1912 the Great War, one of the most destructive and devastating events in the whole of history, is about to take place. So if Birling is so overly confident about such direly important matters (and is wrong about them more often than not)

    • Word count: 2823
  7. Inspector calls - Analyse the dramatic impact of the revelations that Mrs.Birling turned down Evas request for help, that Eva was expecting a baby and that Eric was the father of the child.

    Mr.Birling is depicted as a selfish, obnoxious man who cares about none but his own. Mr.Birling was a Capitalist; Priestly depicts a very strong image of Capitalist through Mr.Birling. Mr.Birling does not play much of a role in this act and seems to have very little to say. At the start of the play Mr.Birling is very confident when speaking to the inspector, he believes he has done nothing wrong and doesn't seem to care about the poor girl Eva.

    • Word count: 2322
  8. How does the play highlight the contrasts between the different philosophies of Arthur Birling and Inspector Goole?

    And so gives the audience a hint that the celebrations the family are enjoying at the start of the play will be stopped shortly. In the play the audience meets Birling first. This is important because Birling is the first person the inspector questions. This way we get to learn about Birling's character and views. If we had not learned about Birling's snobbish views of the working class we may have thought he made a fair decision: "There's nothing scandalous or mysterious about the business."

    • Word count: 2924
  9. In Act 1 of An Inspector Calls how does J.B. Priestley 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?

    Many see this play as one about feminism, the brutal treatment of women, and their significantly inferior place in society. The Suffragettes were in the height of their campaign in 1912, although most despised their actions and tried to repress them, it was inevitable the someday women would gain the power they sought, and families such as the Birlings needed to learn to respect them and treat them as equals, not in the manner that they treated Eva Smith. 1912 is also a significant year in terms of the Titanic, and the fact that England was heading into World War 1, the most fatal and horrific war the country has ever experienced.

    • Word count: 2177
  10. An inspector calls

    It also shows that the Birlings are quite a dysfunctional family. At the start of the play the stage lighting is meant to be pink and intimate to show that the family has to pretend to be close. However, when the Inspector comes, the light becomes harsh and white almost as if Socialism breaks apart the lies and pretences of the Capitalist world the Birling family have built for themselves to reveal the truth about what they have really done.

    • Word count: 2816
  11. What is the function of The Inspector in the play An Inspector Calls?

    J.B Priestley had many political views but he especially focuses (and is against) social inequality in Britain, so to aware the audience of this he had a hidden message of communism in the play which is why it was first preformed in Russia. Priestley deliberately set his play in 1912 because the date represented an era when all was very different from the time he was writing. In 1912, rigid class and gender boundaries seemed to ensure that nothing would change. Yet by 1945, most of those class and gender divisions had been breached through acts like The Suffragette Movement.

    • Word count: 2361
  12. An Inspector Calls. Priestley uses many dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience as well as involving them in the play. Priestley humours the audience by setting the play in the past (1912 when he wrote in 1945) and

    "And I say there isn't a chance of war. The world's developing so fast that'll make war impossible". This shows dramatic irony and the audience would have reacted to this very strongly because they knew only 2 years later a world war was to break out. So the audience would have laughed at this and Mr Birling's wrong statements, the audience would have found this extremely amusing. In the playwright `an inspector calls` Inspector Goole plays a significant role in helping the Birling family see the error of their ways.

    • Word count: 2304
  13. What is the dramatic impact of the opening of the play An Inspector Calls?

    The party then merged with the Labour party, which as a result swayed many people to put Labour in charge of the government and develop the idea of a Welfare State. These themes and issues are a prominent part of the of the play, and the inspector especially is one who pushes these ideas, almost as if he is the voice of Priestley. Priestley describes the setting of the dining room at the beginning of Act One, saying it is "substantial and heavily comfortable" referring to the house being 'enough' for the Birlings' standards.

    • Word count: 2377
  14. An inspector Calls GCSE Literature

    "Lower costs" can be easily linked to lower pay and "higher prices" at the expense of the public and the workforce illustrating the greed of those particular classes. It is in this world that Priestley's play is set. 1912, the Birlings are holding a party to celebrate their daughter's engagement the atmosphere is one of celebration and grandeur with fine wine, port and cigars. Everything is going well and the future looks bright. With Birling discussing the impossibility of war "people say that war is inevitable and to that I say fiddlesticks" and the luxury of the titanic and the fact that it is unsinkable.

    • Word count: 2166
  15. What is the Role of the Inspector and How Does Priestley Use Him to Reveal Ideas about the Birling Family and Society in General?

    They did not have the same rights as men. The play starts with a long set of stage directions from which we learn a lot about the Birling family. They are wealthy as they employ a maid. It is also suggests that they are strongly ruled by their social duties and roles because it is said that Mrs Birling is 'socially superior' to Mr Birling suggesting that society plays a big role in the family's life. This is further suggested by the fact that the men wear 'tails and white ties' to a family dinner signifying that the family are very proper and must be formal at all times - even in an informal setting.

    • Word count: 2471
  16. An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley What is the dramatic function of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls?

    The play is set in 1912 but was written in 1945 and there are references to the Titanic, strikes, and war. The inspector could be there for several reasons; firstly he could be inspecting society through the family's actions and decisions. Secondly he shows Priestley's socialist based views and portrays them to his audience. He does this because he has strong political views that he wishes for others to hear and think about through the medium of theatre. The Birlings' world appears harmonious before the Inspector arrives as they are sitting around the table together celebrating Sheila and Gerald's engagement.

    • Word count: 2343
  17. An Inspector Calls

    Before the inspector enters the Birlings house the atmosphere is joyful, soft and romantic. The engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft are being celebrated. Birling and Eric were smoking cigars and drinking port. The lighting is pink, representing the romantic event. This pink lighting has a sudden change, towards the inspector's entrance. The lighting changes from pink to a plain bright light. This conveying the atmosphere's change from romance, to the harsh unpleasant reality. The inspector is described as a short man in his fifties, wearing a hat and in a dark suit.

    • Word count: 2556
  18. How does Priestley present attitudes to the theme of morality in "An Inspector Calls"?

    a man has to mind his own business". This idea is furthered when he is revealed to have a part in Eva Smith's death. Upon being questioned by the Inspector, he says that "I can't accept any responsibility", and continues with "If we were all responsible for everything that had happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with it would be very awkward, wouldn't it"? These quotes show that Mr Birling's concept of morality is that everyone is responsible for just themselves, and that morally no one person is capable of affecting another.

    • Word count: 2919
  19. Closely examine the character of Mr Arthur Birling and his daughter Sheila Birling showing how and why Sheila changes after the inspector(TM)s visit, but Arthur does not

    He is also very selfish, as he cares only about himself and his family. If he could undo sacking Eva Smith, he could do so only for his own benefits; he feels absolutely no remorse in doing this deed and continues to think there's nothing wrong with it, the only disadvantage being that he lost a good worker. Therefore, if he could undo his deed, he would not be doing it for her, to save her life, or to keep her happy, but just for himself, so he can have a better worker.

    • Word count: 2659
  20. Use of Dramatic Devices

    Different messages were expressed throughout the duration of An Inspector Calls, but all share the similarity in being wake up calls. Considering the play was set in 1912, social-economic statuses substantially divided the population into groups at this time. Therefore, different classes were separated from each other completely. One of the more important messages expressed was the idea of creating a more equal society. This technique was certainly amplified by the happenings during the play. The second message used was the idea of thinking about how our actions can contribute to significant effects on other people.

    • Word count: 2563
  21. The Speckled Band Essay

    Vicious killers would roam the streets, brutally murdering innocent passer-bys and prostitutes. "Jack the Ripper" was a better-known criminal who murdered many prostitutes and was never caught by the police. This was no surprise at the time as the Police were seen as useless and people instead, would turn to private detectives like Sherlock Holmes himself. At the beginning of the story the mood is unclear as we don't know what the perceived crime is yet. Watson drops hints to the seriousness and unusualness of the crime with phrases such as "I cannot recall any which presented more singular features than that which was associated with the well-known surrey family of the Roylotts, of Stoke Moran".

    • Word count: 2712
  22. Write a letter from the director to the actor playing a character you have studied, in which you advise him/her about the role he/she will be playing and it(TM)s importance to the play.

    This is important in the play, because 'The Inspector' is the person that tries to make Birling change and possibly become more socialist and realise that there are other people in the world and I think that the way that the Inspector arrives immediately after he has delivered this speech to the rest of the Birling family, that the 'Eva/Daisy' story could possibly have just been a story until he refused to change his ways. I think that the point of the play was that the Inspector had come to the Birling's house to try to change them and make them better people, and they were told about Eva/Daisy and then they were given the option to change.

    • Word count: 2749
  23. Why do you think Priestley chooses to set the play in 1912? What effect does this have on the play(TM)s dramatic impact?

    Despite the reference to the "desert plates" and "champagne glasses" there is still a lingering feeling of cold and disagreement within the family. There is also a sense of formality and distance between the family members as he writes that "men are in tails and white ties" and that it is "not cosy and homelike". He also emphasises the remoteness between Mr and Mrs Birling by situating them at opposite ends of the table We can draw contrasts from 1912 and 1945 on many occasions during An Inspector Calls.

    • Word count: 2795
  24. How does J.B. Priestley create dramatic tension and suspense in Act One of "An Inspector Calls"?

    At that point Birling is aware that he is socially inferior to Gerald, and he tries to work his way around it. Birling also makes his wife take some port, because he wants to make Gerald think that they are all of the same social status. However, Mrs Birling is socially superior to her husband, and she only drinks port in moderation compared to Arthur and Eric. Birling unfortunately follows this up with another mistake, where after he relaxes, he tells his wife to thank the cook for the meal he and everyone else have just eaten.

    • Word count: 2715
  25. An Inspector Calls

    This is precisely the role in which you will be playing, as Sheila Birling. This play is about a Birling family who are joyfully celebrating their daughter's engagement to Gerald Croft. When inconveniently an inspector shows up investigating a suicide of a young-working class women. The moral message which Priestley was trying to give the audience was that he wanted change and he does this through the characters Sheila and her brother Eric, as the younger generation was easier to get through then the older. He wanted society to change, wanted to show the affect of responsibility and that change was important.

    • Word count: 2296

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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