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GCSE: J.B. Priestley
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John Boynton Priestley's biography
- 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 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 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 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 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.
Although Churchill (a Conservative) is seen as a war hero for leading the fight against Nazism (he led a coalition government of Labour, Conservative and Liberal elements) a Socialist government has won a landslide victory in the 1945 General Election. In the play Priestley sets out an effective series of stage directions. He applies them effectively as a dramatic device, in that he uses them to show how the Birling family are cold, distant people and how money has corrupted them as a family.
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This play is classed in the genre of 'morality plays'. These were more commonly written in the Middle Ages and showed the terrible results of committing one of the seven deadly sins. The message from these plays demonstrated to the audiences how to live their lives and how to behave. This is very similar to Priestley's socialist view of treating each other equally. This in fact is the message of the play, everyone should look out for each other, and bad things happen when people don't. In WWI, Priestley served as a soldier and saw for himself the horrific consequences of war and conflict.
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Discuss the impact of the inspector's final speech & exit and explore why it is made more dramatic given the social and historical context of the play. Why do you think the inspector has called?
The Upper class were the highest social class, or the people in it, this class contained the aristocracy and the very wealthy, all the people who were considered upper class had a title, like 'Lady' or 'Lord'. J.B. Priestley, whose full name is John Boynton Priestley, was born on the 13th September 1894, in Bradford. At the age of 20 Priestley, who having grown up into his father's circle of socialist friends, had now found himself joining in with their political arguments.
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This primarily arouses a lot of suspicion as the name Goole can be associated with ghosts or spirits. As well as this, the play creates a lot of dramatic irony due to Mr Birling portraying to everyone that he knows everything like there "won't be a war" and the "strikes will be over" and that they have "past the worst of it", I personally find that this may be true for a lot of upper class citizens at the time of 1912 but in 1945 this would be seen as poposterous.
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Some members of the Conservative Party complained about Priestley expressing left-wing views on his radio programme. As a result Priestley made his last talk on 20th October 1940. Priestley and a group of friends now established the 1941 Committee. Which he soon became the chairman of In December 1941 the committee published a report that called for public control of the railways, mines and docks and a national wages policy. A further report in May 1942 argued for works councils and the publication of "post-war plans for the provision of full and free education, employment and a civilized standard of living for everyone.
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Gerald had found her at the bar of the theatre, known to him as Daisy Renton and had an affair with her over the summer only to dump her when it suited him. Priestly makes the Inspector seem almost omniscient, nothing surprises him and it's as if he always knows what's coming. 'He wasn't a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.' He answers "I knew already" when Gerald admits that he had known Daisy Renton.
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World War II had scarred the middle of the century. It involved most of the world and had ended with atomic bombs being dropped on Japan. The century had ended with the collapse of communist governments worldwide in the 80's and 90's. In the end it seemed that the capitalist west was ruling the world. It didn't seem as though anyone could have challenged its economic and military might. It was definitely a century of "fire, blood and anguish". Overall, we can see that the play portrays the restless times of the century.
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That's what you've got to keep your eye on, facts like that, progress like that." This is dramatic irony, where there is a discrepancy between the way things are and the words a character uses. We know the Titanic Sank on 15 April 1912 and there were between 1,502 and 1,520 casualties. H.G Wells' short story "The Time Machine" was first published. He was a socialist who wrote science fiction visions of apocalyptic futures. He believed that society's salvation could only come about through education and from learning from history.
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In Act I of An Inspector Calls how does J B Priestley use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to members of the audience, as well as interest and involve them in the play?
This is not typical of stage plays. Priestley has given clear stage directions on how the furniture can be "swung back" to "reveal the fireplace in Act II". The initial directions go into such detail that they even describe how the producers could "avoid this tricky business". The length of the stage directions and the details about the interior, which is "substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike", suggests the great importance that Priestley placed on getting these details correct in order to portray the characters in the right way.
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The Inspector came to the Birlings house to represent the poor, the oppressed and the weak- he is like their voice, speaking for them, trying to help them. The Inspector came to the Birlings house to teach them a lesson. A lesson that no matter how much money you have, or how clever or smart you are, or if you nice clothes and furniture this does not change the fact that everyone is equal and that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. He has come to represent them and explain this to the Birlings.
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The first character that speaks is Arthur Birling, he an upper-middle class citizen, but it is obvious that he would like to be upper class and is envious of the Croft family. 'It's a pity Sir George and -err -Lady Croft can't be with us,' His hesitation before saying the word Lady almost suggests that he didn't want to say it, as if he too would like to be upper class. Gerald Croft isn't a Birling, but he wishes to marry Sheila so he is being polite and acting nice.
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In what ways does J B Priestley present the effect of the Inspectors visit on Arthur Birling in the play?
Arthur Birling sometimes gets carried away with his speeches in the play, when he is talking about what is going on in the world and what he thinks will happen. However when Birling says something will happen, he really means that he hopes it doesn't happen. For example, he rejects predictions and fears of war because there is too much at stake for him. This is dramatic irony in the play because the following things he says will eventually go wrong.
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An Inspector Calls Coursework - How Does Sheila Birling's Character Change as a Result of Eva's Story in An Inspector Calls?
The Inspector tells them the story of the tragic suicide of a young girl, whose name is Eva Smith, but she calls herself Daisy Renton after Mr. Birling sacks her, as an attempt to make a fresh start. He forces them to see how each of the people present contributed to her taking her own life by swallowing disinfectant. Gradually, he picks away at the protective, self-satisfied shell that the Birlings have built up around themselves, and eventually manages to pull apart the whole sense of the family.
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Examine the role of the Inspector Goole in "An Inspector Calls" and comment on what Priestly reveals about his own society
At this point we have an idea that the inspector was over listening, knowing how wrong Birling is and decides to take his course. Again as we have an idea that the inspector arrives Priestley creates "a brighter and much harder light." From this point on we know that this man is going to have a huge impact upon the rest of the characters and is about to change their way of living, well at least for some of them.
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There is a side table next to the door with a telephone on it. The lighting should be a light colour to show the family is happy and carefree until the inspector comes in, then it should be brighter and harder. This makes it more dramatic. It shakes the audience out of their expectations of a conventional play. The conversation between Mr.Birling and Gerald is mainly Mr.Birling boasting about how he is a 'self-made man' and trying to coolly brag about how he might be on the next honours list and saying casually "Just a knighthood, of course".
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Mr.Birling says, ' ...Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time now - though Crofts Limited are both older and bigger than Birling Company- and now you've brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together...' Mr.Birling is a greedy, snobby pig and is only interested in money and how much higher he ranks to other people. When the Inspector arrives Mr.Birling is shocked by the way the inspector talks down to him and speaks as if he is a lower class than the inspector himself.
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Analyse the character of Inspector Goole. Compare and contrast him with Arthur Birling. What do his investigations tell us about British Society in 1912? The state of society in 1912 represented an era when
Mr Birling represents Priestley hatred of businessmen, who are only interested in making money. Priestley expresses his view through the mysterious character of Inspector Goole. He wants to teach people like Mr Birling a lesson, or else they would learn in conflict; Priestley wanted everyone to learn that they are all members of one body. The description of Inspector Goole on page 11 in the Heinemann edition uncovers a lot about his physical side. He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit.
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Why do you think that An Inspector Calls still remains popular today? An Inspector Calls, written by J.B.Priestley, is about a middle class family named The Birlings
A very unlikeable woman who sees lots of people as being beneath her. Sheila Birling- comes across as a very polite and obedient woman, looking forward to her engagement to Gerald Croft. However, as the play goes on, Sheila begins to realise the truth about herself and the Birling family, and begins to stand up against them. Eric Birling-Quite an enclosed person. Eric's personality is hard to detect. He seems to be the outcast of the family, and the family do not discover until later on in the play that Eric is in fact a heavy drinker and was to father a illegitimate child.
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In Act One 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 the in the play?
This was a time in which the gentlemen and businessmen still had very much control over their peers, and administered complete authority with only their own interests at heart. Priestley found these people to be "incredibly stupid and complacent", and he felt that many of the disasters caused during the war, was predominantly due to the lunacy of the High Command, which would have comprised of the people who Priestley felt most distain towards. The images that he saw whilst serving his country gave him many of the view that her tries to convey in "An Inspector Calls" as he
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As the set is not changed from the dining room in 'Birling Manor' a feeling of realism is created. The tension caused seems as if it is happening during that particular moment as if it was set in the present. Furthermore, as it is all set in one room we the audience can see the claustrophobic mood of each character as they learn their own and their family's role in the girl's death. At the beginning of the play Mr Arthur Birling and Gerald Croft his future son-in-law there is a great businessman and wealthy like attitude as they talk about port (a type of fortified wine).
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Also, the 'unsinkable' Titanic is mentioned several times by Mr Birling - hence it was essential for Priestly to set the play before the sinking in 1914. Priestley uses the play as an example of what can happen if we are ignorant to the feelings of others. He believed a great deal in socialism and he used several of his plays to try and influence people. His technique was to use his characters to get into the minds of the readers and get across his attitude towards life.
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An Inspector CallsJ. B. Priestley - How does Priestley make a drama out of the theme of social responsibility?
The Birlings are the middle class because they are nouveau riche. You can tell this by the way Mr. Birling especially speaks. It is obvious, because he speaks informal sometimes. Finally, Eva Smith is the lower class as she has had the hardest life, in terms of least money, jobs and not being able to have much pleasure. The main message of the Inspector is that "we don't live alone" and if that lesson isn't learnt then we will be taught in "fire and blood and anguish". Whatever we do has a chain of events afterwards; "We are responsible for each other".
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Dear Mr. Anthony Hopkins Thank you for accepting the role of the inspector in my production of J B Priestley's play 'An inspector calls'.The play is set in the
her job due to a complaint that was made by a jealous and petty-minded customer, that customer was Sheila who now feels very guilty about Eva Smith's death. We now also find that Gerald was also involved with Eva Smith, who at that time went by the name Daisy Renton. Gerald had had an affair with Daisy Renton (alias Eva Smith) the previous summer; she was his mistress until it no more suited him. Sheila admires Gerald for his honesty but doesn't seem to keen on continuing her relationship with Gerald, Gerald d leaves the house to go for a walk.
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" 'An Inspector Calls' has been described as a well- made play. Discuss the description of the play indicating how far you agree with it."
In the play we are left wondering whether our society today is likely to survive a similarly close examination, like with the characters in the play. Throughout the nineteenth century there was a dramatic expansion of industry, which gave many men a chance to face considerable fortunes. Many of these industrialists were granted titles for their wealth, which helped them to improve their social standing. In this play, J.B Priestley comprises a family with a very big name. The family comes from humble origins, who innocently don't know what their unpredictable future is about to hold.
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Another way of dramatic tension created by Priestley through the role of Eric Birling, where he explores rich people abuse poor people. The point is the audience may have lost interest in him
The Birling family is very high in society and they live in a big house with lots of money and credit. There are currently four members of the family, Mr. Birling the father of the family, Mrs. Sybil Birling the mother, Eric Birling the son and youngest member, Sheila Birling, the daughter of the family and soon to be married to Sheila is Gerald Croft, a member of the well known Croft family. Because this family is of such a high society they tend to close the door on and shut out the lower society.
- Word count: 3526