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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

    The plot of 'an Inspector Calls' is unlike any other I've ever seen before. As the play progresses through time you learn piece by piece how every characters' involvement with Eva/Daisy lead to her eventual death and so you are constantly 'on the edge of your seat' waiting for a new dramatic clue of her suicide. Every character has a very deep personality and as the play progresses you learn of their involvement with Eva/Daisy. All the characters except for Eric and Sheila do not feel sorry for what they each did to her even when they knew that they

    • Word count: 2480
  2. Inspector calls essay.

    He is actually a very na�ve person that thinks he knows everything. We know this because when he is talking to Gerald he says "The Germans don't want war." The audience knows that he is wrong because shortly afterwards World War one began. Another example of his ignorance is when he says that the Titanic is absolutely unsinkable. The audience know that he is also wrong about this; of course his views were shared by many others. The point though, is that Eric, dismissed by his father as young and lacking knowledge of worldly affairs, can see what might be in store.

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  3. An Inspector Calls

    The reasoning for this is because Gerald's farther, Mr Croft, has already received a knighthood and marked his place in society so Mr Birling wants to mark his place there too and be able to make it clear to Mr Croft that he is a tough business rival. Once again this is a reference to the importance of holding a high place in society, and the rivalry between those places. Also Mr Birling feels much pride in himself and his family and feels that he is a very important part in society and to his families way of life, this

    • Word count: 2616
  4. Scrutinising the theatrical effects used by J.B Priestly in his classic tale of "An Inspector Calls".

    But many employers did not take the rights of workers too seriously. Thus, upper and lower class was developed and for some such as Eva Smith, the situation could only get worse off than it had been. This has a big effect on how the drama is presented. It is a special genre of writing and needs a performance in a theatre to arrive at a full interpretation of its meaning. It must not be read but acted out. Contained within it must be certain features such as a main plot and different themes.

    • Word count: 2191
  5. J. B Priestly’s play has been described as an allegory. To what extent do you think this is true? What could be said to be the deeper meaning or implicit message of An Inspector Calls?

    Mr Birling is described in the opening stage direction as being a "heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners and rather provincial in his speech." He is the head of the family and as such believes that he deserves respect. From his speech it would appear that he earned his wealth rather than inheriting it, it also appears that his wife is his social superior. This is aptly demonstrated through his lack of knowledge of basic etiquette, particularly when he complements his servants when visitors are around, and is he swiftly rebuked by his wife " Birling: Good dinner too, sybil tell the cook from me."

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  6. Examine and Comment on the Dramatic Effect of the character of the Inspector in J.B. Priesley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’

    However, his attempts are thwarted by Mr Birling who does not seem to recognise him. This is the first major incoherence within the inspector's interrogation; that an influential man such as Mr Birling in a small village does not recognise him. As the Inspector progresses with his interrogation of the family, suspicions mount about his true identity. A more perceptive audience would notice these incoherences far more. Cleverly, the inspector is beginning to set the scene for the intense drama to come later on in the play. His name is also suspicious. Inspector Goole, translated from Latin means ghost. J.B.

    • Word count: 2649
  7. Discuss the way in which responsibility is dealt with in An Inspector Calls

    I think that the statements Birling makes before the doorbell rings are very important in the forthcoming events in the play. Even when Birling realises that the inspector is a phoney he still feels no remorse and is only thinking about himself. This shows how strong his individualistic views are. Birling was the first to encounter Eva Smith. He had employed her at his works until September 1910. He didn't care about any of his workers, and didn't know them at all, as when the inspector asked him who Eva Smith was, he simply couldn't remember.

    • Word count: 2236
  8. Show how and explain why Priestley creates dramatic tension in the Birling house even before the inspector arrives. Pay close attention to the language of the play.

    This is called dramatic irony. His wife, Sybil is much of a sexist, traditionalist type lady. Sheila Birling is a young woman who is very pleased with life at the beginning of the book. Her brother Eric is quite mysterious and comes across as very strange. On the surface, the mood in the Birling's house is jovial. Everyone seems quite happy with his or her lives but sometimes language they use shows there is tension. Tension is the anticipation of something bad, stressed or uncomfortable coming.

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  9. ‘We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’What is Priestley’s main aim in An Inspector Calls? How successfully does he achieve this aim?

    Then Shelia, Arthur's daughter complains about her, and she is sacked. After this Gerald, Sheila's fianc�e starts having an affair with Eva. Gerald then stopped having the affair with Eva and Eric, Arthur's son has an affair with her and gets her pregnant. Eva goes to the Brumley Women's Charity Organization, but is refused help because of Sybil Birling. Eva then commits suicide. Inspector The inspector projects P11 '(An impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.)' He is very dismissive, above all to Mr. Birling and Sybil (the older generation.) They don't like this, probably because they see the inspector as of a lower class to them and are talking impolitely to them.

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  10. Who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

    The government, allowing owners of businesses, such as Birling's, to make huge profits, adopted a policy of Laissez-faire. Socialists like H.G.Wells, Bernard Shaw and Priestley himself, believed in trade and industry being controlled by the state in the interests of public profit. Britain still had its Empires back in 1912. It consisted of less industrially advanced countries that Britain exploited for cheap labour and raw materials, much in the same way that wealthy Britains exploited the lower class. It was through the under-privileged of Britain and abroad that the upper class in Britain was able to live in such luxury.

    • Word count: 2814
  11. Discuss the view of responsibility, guilt and blame for all of the characters in “An inspector calls”.

    He says that he is up for a knighthood. He is not prepared to accept any responsibility for her death. He was simply doing his job. "look there's nothing mysterious or scandalous about this business." "it happened nearly two years ago, obviously it has nothing to do with the wretched girls suicide." In the above evidence I can see that Birling is not accepting any responsibility for what he did and he truly thinks he did the right thing. He has not guilt about what he has done as he maintains the view he was in the right.

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  12. How Priestly conveys his socialist beliefs in An Inspector Calls

    but also the climate of when the play is set, 1912. Because of the two periods involved in this aspect, Priestly could very easily use historic facts to suit his own needs. That is either to show up the supposed foolishness of capitalism or to present the cool, calm and wisdom of socialism. He uses both of these tactics effectively throughout the play, but perhaps the two most poignant occasions are when Birling calmly says in mid-conversation, " I'm talking as a hard-headed, practical man of business.

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  13. In your view, who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

    Priestly cleverly disguises his own voice through one of the characters, the inspector. He tells the audience of his views of life through the character and explains reasons of histories tragic events such as the world wars. I will begin by discussing the role in which Arthur Birling has played in the demise of Eva Smith. Arthur Birling is a self-made man who has built Birling And Company into a successful local business. At the start of the play Birling is described as a pretentious, selfish, complacent man, ex-Lord Mayor, potential Knighthood and "sound useful party man" who plays golf with the chief of police.

    • Word count: 2143
  14. The Inspector Says "We're all responsible for each other". Mr Birling Says "A man has to make his own way"Show How Priestly Develops the Theme of Responsibility Through the Characters In The Play.

    He is an odd person. His manner considered "rude" by Mr Birling ("Did you say why inspector?") and he is quite abrupt and aggressive. Another peculiar aspect of the inspector's enquiries is that he doesn't tell them anything they don't already know. For example when the inspector leaves Gerald and Sheila to simmer, he returns - after a mini-argument between Gerald and his fianc�e - and simply accusingly says "well?" At that point the scene ends and the audience left in awe.

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  15. Who was most to blame for the Death of Eva Smith?

    Had it been her own daughter, or even a women of a higher class, it is likely that Mrs. Birling would have considered her case more sympathetically and offered any help available. Mr. Birling too is a very class conscious person. Even when speaking to Gerald, who is a slightly higher class, Mr. Birling feels he has to prove himself. It appears that Gerald?s mother is not keen on the marriage due to the Birling?s status. However Mr. Birling tries to show off by talking of a knighthood he says he is bound to get, ?Just a knighthood, of course? This shows that though Mr.

    • Word count: 2911
  16. Discuss the ways in which Priestley reveals ideas about equality between sexes in An Inspector Calls.

    Priestley is a Socialist and an egalitarian, and so he has the sort of views that you would expect everyone to have in today?s day and age, but back in 1912, there was not as much freedom and equality of genders as there is now; also, Priestley used to broadcast short speeches on the radio, trying to persuade people to alter their thoughts to the socialist views, and showing them the merits and benefits of socialism, rather than capitalism. One way in which Priestley reveals ideas about inequality between the different genders by using the character and role of Eva

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  17. Priestley presents ideas about responsibility in an 'An Inspector Calls'

    He implies that in order to move forward and to rebuild the country the way forward is socialism. Priestley presents ideas about responsibility in an 'An Inspector Calls' by portraying the inspector as a conscience, using him to represent a good example of responsibility in society. The clarity of Eric and Sheila's realisation of the consequences of their actions sends a strong message to the audience about responsibility. Priestley emphasises that everyone has a social responsibility and this is explored through different characters in the play.

    • Word count: 2395
  18. In 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 the play?

    Suffragettes originate from the word suffrage which means not having the right to vote. Life in the Edwardian Era was a complete contrast between the rich and the poor. The poor had to work for life-threatening hours with minimum wage which was not even enough for a living. They can not even afford to feed their families; the rich had ?port? and take it all for granted. The rich women did not have jobs whereas the poor women had to beg on streets and were seen as gutters.

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