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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.
- Marked by Teachers essays 21
He finds the things his family say funny, even if there is no joke. He laughs aloud when the conversation turns to Gerald and his ?work?. This indicates that he is aware of Gerald?s philandering. He is quite naive, in no way as worldly or as cunning as Gerald Croft. He may be jealous of the fact that Mr Birling seems to be much more interested in Gerald than his own son. There is another awkward moment when Gerald, Birling and Eric are chatting about women's love of clothes before the Inspector arrives.
- Word count: 1687
Priestly presents Mr Birling like this so the audience realises the older generation are stuck in their ways and can?t accept responsibility for their actions, because in their view they are always right. Priestly presents Mrs Birling in a similar way, Mrs Birling doesn?t accept responsibility because she doesn?t like the lower class and believes it is there fault they are in the situations they get into, for example she say?s ?girls of that class? which shows she is like her husband and won?t have anything to do with accepting responsibility or the lower class.
- Word count: 1121
Although she has probably never before considered the impact of her decisions on the working class, she shows compassion immediately she hears of Eva Smith?s death. She first exclaims ?How horrible!? and proceeds to tell her father "But these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people." However, when the Inspector reveals Shelia?s role in causing the chain of events that lead to Eva Smith?s suicide, Shelia is horrified by her own part in Eva's story and is moved to tears.
- Word count: 754
accept this with Gerald as seen by the phrase ?I don?t believe I will? ? this shows how Sheila often likes to challenge what the older generations say and believe. Sheila speaks mostly in short interjections such as seen from the phrase ?What?s all this about?. This emphasises to the audience her lack of voice as a young woman in 1912. At the start she does not have a place in the world of ?hard-headed? businessmen. This is further seen by the way her mother and father both speak to her in a highly patronising tone as if she has nothing of importance to say.
- Word count: 970
The audience believe that Mr Birling is clueless because of the statements. Priestley was a socialist , he believes that capitalism should be abolished and socialism would be brought in. Mr Birling is a capitalist and Priestley portrayed him as a fool. Priestley does not want the audience to believe in capitalism . In what ways is Eva Smith exploited? Eva Smith is exploited by the upper class as there was a lack of respect from the upper class to the lower class.
- Word count: 585
Birling has done anything but. This shows the hypocrisy of Mr. Birling?s attitudes; on one hand he is clearly very paranoid regarding the way others view him but simultaneously ignores and demonizes those below him in social status. There seems to also be no limit in Mr. Birling?s greed and pursuit of money; Priestly uses bathos to show how Mr. Birling demeans the importance of anything but money and personal gain. Mr. Birling says when speaking of Sheila and Geralds engagement that this was ?one of the happiest nights of [his] life?.
- Word count: 753
This may also be a sign of subtext that Mrs. Birling also might be dissatisfied with the social gap between her and husband. This could perhaps be a subtler view of Priestley?s about the lack of cohesiveness between classes in society. Relationship with Sheila Despite her daughter being a grown woman who is in the process of marrying, Mrs Birling is of the view that Sheila is incapable of speaking for herself. When Sheila ?(half serious, half playful)? criticises Gerald for ?not coming near me last summer? Mrs Birling doesn?t pick up on the ?playful? nature of her daughter?s remarks
- Word count: 1080
Eva?s Sacking + Capitalism Eric clearly shows much more sympathy to Priestley?s views than that of his father. Discussing Eva Smith?s death, Eric suggests; ?Why shouldn?t they try for higher wages? We try for the highest possible prices? ? you said yourself she was a good worker? this shows how Eric is questioning not only the decision making of his father but also Mr. Birling?s view on society. Mr. Birling is a keen advocate of everybody ?looking after himself? but when a lower class workers attempts to improve their life changes Mr. Birling is contradictory and fires Eva.
- Word count: 946
Again dramatic irony bites when Gerald laugh and says, ?You seem to be a well behaved family-? which Mr Birling replies with, ?We think we are-? Knowing that the Birlings have been anything but nice considering their unjust full actions towards Eva Smith, will soon be exposed. They're too comfortable and their secrets of their refusal to bother will be uncovered by the Inspector. However, the connection between Gerald and Birling grow as the book progresses and we finally realise that his similar capitalist views hasn't been affected or even slightly altered by the end of Act 3, leaving him unchanged.
- Word count: 678
We also find out that Mr Birling?s wife is his social superior meaning that Mr Birling may have worked his way up from a lower class into a higher class, he also enjoys telling people of how wealthy he is this may be understandable due to him working his way all the way up into the class he is in now. At the very beginning of the play, Mr Birling is shown to be obsessed with his social status by Priestly, due to him stating that ?You Ought to like this port Gerald, Finchley told me it?s exactly the same port your father gets from him?.
- Word count: 702
Priestly keeps making remarks about Eric?s unusual characteristics, the reason he does is to make the audience feel nervous around him, like you could be expecting anything when he says something. From Eric?s language he uses he can tell that he is drunk, and not himself, ?Good old Shelia!? Priestley?s use of the exclamation mark emphasises Eric?s exaggeration and makes the audience wonder why he is acting so strange. The audience gets hints that Eric is a drunk from the off, Shelia says ?you?re squiffy? he denies straight away with an aggressive tone, which what a drunk person would do.
- Word count: 813
Gerald is in a higher social class than the Birling family, and his father is business rivals with ?Birling and company?, however ?Crofts Limited are both older and bigger? than Mr Birling company. Gerald?s parents are not pleased with the engagement, as the Birling family are in a lower class, however Gerald is not bothered by this, which shows how he values love more than social class, however it is not the same story when he meets Daisy Renton, and he knows he can?t marry her or be with her due to social class.
- Word count: 757
The first person to be questioned is Mr Birling. Just before the Inspector?s arrival he was giving the two younger men life advice, ?A man has to look after himself,? this is the opposite of the lesson the Inspector is determined to teach them. Mr Birling is far from innocent setting off ?a chain of events? by sacking Eva Smith when she is involved in a strike within his business. Sadly, he never accepts responsibility for his actions claiming it all ?a load of nonsense.? The next to be targeted is Sheila.
- Word count: 616
Furthermore, most of the audience are socialists due to the elections in 1945 being won by the labour party by a majority vote and due to the fact that J B Priestley was a socialist meaning that his audience were also socialists, therefore, their ideologies are very similar to that of Sheila causing them to develop a liking for her. The dramatist presents Sheila as shifting towards the Inspector because the audience respect him due to their similar beliefs of socialism so when Sheila is presented as similar to him they develop a further liking towards her.
- Word count: 1575