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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

    How does the character Sheila Birlings change in the play An Inspector Calls?

    5 star(s)

    When we meet Sheila she seems to be satisfied with life; she is also from a comfortable family and so is Gerald. When Gerald is presenting Sheila with her engagement ring she accepts it in an "[excited]" way and she spends a long time looking at it, (Birling says, "Are you listening, Sheila?"). Her relationship with Gerald seems to be fine on the surface but if you were to dig a little deeper you could see signs of problems. Sheila mentioned how Gerald never came near her the previous summer, but Gerald quickly replied with an excuse claiming that he was "awfully busy at the works all that time".

    • Word count: 1384
  2. 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
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the way the characters between different generations is developed in An Inspector Calls

    4 star(s)

    The word ?mock? means, in this case, means fake and not serious, reflecting the attitude of Sheila at the start quite clearly, as someone who is not very serious about most things. Throughout the entire first act this attitude is continued until she meets the Inspector, with Priestley using such phrases as ?Half serious half playful? and ?light and easy? to describe her. Birling, on the other hand, is shown to be quite arrogant and stuck up, even stupid, at the start of the play.

    • Word count: 1466
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. Marked by a teacher

    The apportioning of blame and responsibility are central themes in 'An Inspector Calls'. Each character plays a part in Eva Smiths downfall. Show how the playwright explores these themes during the course of the play.

    4 star(s)

    Further and in the play we find out that it is the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft. At this point Edna clears the table and everyone begins a light-hearted chat, everything seems to be going smoothly. I think J. B. Priestley uses this cosy atmosphere so as to use dramatic irony to warn the audience that this atmosphere will not last long. I see this when Mr Birling changes to subject to the Titanic saying, " why, a friend of mine went over this new liner last week-The Titanic-forty-six thousand, eight hundred tons-every luxury-and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable" another subject to Mr Birling brings up is World War I by saying " I'll tell you......

    • Word count: 3811

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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