- Join over 1.2 million students every month
- Accelerate your learning by 29%
- Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
GCSE: J.B. Priestley
Meet our team of inspirational teachers
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.
Why did you refuse?" and Mr Berling replies in a bullying way when he says "Well, Inspector, I don't see that it is any concern of yours how I choose to run my business. Is it now?" Throughout the play the Inspector brings the characters out of everyone. The Inspector also brings out all the secrets throughout the play about how they were partly to blame about the death of Eva Smith we can tell this were he says "I had an idea it might be from something the girl herself wrote" and Sheila says "I've told my farther - he didn't seem to
- Word count: 833
Choose two characters from the play. With careful analysis of relevant sections of the play, show how Priestly wants us to react to them in different ways, and give reasons for these differences.
Birling has control over what she does. In the beginning of the play, Mr. Birling is portrayed to us as being a proud and overconfident man. You can tell that he is someone who is always concerned about his work. His speech shows us that he's a workaholic. 'Steadily increasing prosperity,' this shows that although it's his daughter's engagement he is still willing to talk about his work. Mr. Birling is also fairly talkative. This is shown as he has two lengthy monologues which show that he's a talkative person. Mr. Birling is also shown to the audience as being a formal speaker.
- Word count: 1425
An Inspector Calls - Compare and contrast the reactions of the older generation and the younger to interrogation by the Inspector. Evaluate the social and historical setting of the play and it's cultural setting
I will concentrate mainly on the Birling family as Gerald faces no real interrogation due to his honesty and small involvement, also, he leaves very shortly after his brief questioning and we don't see any effects that the questioning may or may not have had. Edna (maid) will not be analysed, as she faced no questioning whatsoever. The older generation, therefore, is composed of Mr. and Mrs. Birling and the younger generation consists of Gerald and Sheila Birling. At first, Mr.
- Word count: 2119
inspector calls The introduction to the play offers a lengthy description of the set, helping the audience to picture the scene
As the Inspector enters, immediately after the doorbell rings, Birling says: - "You'd think everybody has to look after everyone else as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive-community and all that nonsense" The significance of the Inspector arriving at that stage is that they will discover everybody influences someone. The Inspector has his own spotlight, to separate him from the rest of the characters. The lighting changes when the inspector enters. Mr Birling instructs Edna: - "Give us some more light" This symbolises an unnerving presence, Godlike and heavenly.
- Word count: 1262
In Act One of An Inspector Calls how does J.B. Priestly 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?
One of the first devices he uses is dramatic irony. This is when the audience watching the play are aware of an event that the character(s) are unaware of. Priestly uses dramatic irony throughout his play to make the play appealing. For example, he uses it when Mr Birling is talking in the dining room with Gerald, Eric, Mrs Birling and Shelia, and he talks about how the Titanic is 'unsinkable', "...-and every luxury - and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." The audience in 1945 and beyond knew that the Titanic sunk during its trip to New York, and with Mr Birling saying that it is unsinkable, makes him look and sound very unintelligent, which gives an impression on the audience straight away.
- Word count: 1505
He keeps the rest of the characters going throughout the play and maintains the tension at all times. As soon as he arrives, the feelings completely change from a wonderful, warm family celebration to a cold, harsh and open question filled play. The lighting is pink at first to accommodate the family celebration to make it look nice and cosy, and cover up any problems. As soon as the inspector arrives, the lighting changes to bright white, as if to shine a light on everything and to show that nothing can be hidden from him. This is explained in the stage notes; 'The lighting should be pink and intimate until the INSPECTOR arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder.'
- Word count: 1656
In act one of ' An Inspector Calls' how does J B Priestly use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas
Birling in the play, was that you were only responsible for yourself, your business and your family. Mr. Birling says this in one of his speeches in act one, showing his capitalist view. " The way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else as if we were all mixed up like bees in a bee hive- community and all that nonsense." Mr. Birling makes a statement in another speech communicating his views on society and the future on Britain's welfare. He claims world war one will not take place and says " It is just politicians talking."
- Word count: 1746
Focus on the passage beginning (Gerald: Anyway we'll see) to the end of the play, "An Inspector Calls". How does Priestley create dramatic tension in this final scene?
Priestley cleverly conceals one side of the conversation from the Birlings and the audience. Therefore, the audience alongside the Birlings await an outcome; 'Or any like suicide? Yes I'll wait. As he waits, the others show their nervous tension Birling wipes his brow, Shiela shivers, Eric clasps his hand etc. Yes...You're certain of that...I see. Well thank you very much. Good night.' Here, the truth is obscured and the audience has an inability to hear the infirmary and their outcome. The language is broken and the punctuation is disjointed, allowing more time to pass as we are waiting, thereby increasing tension.
- Word count: 2894
Inspector Calls English Coursework - 'We are all members of the one body'. Show how Priestley conveys this message to the audience
When Priestly left the war he went to a university in Cambridge. In university he wrote "the Cambridge review". This could be seen as another stepping stone that led Priestly towards taking entertaining as a professional. Priestly eventually writes the play an Inspector Calls in 1945. Although this after the first world war Priestly decided to set the play before the world war. I think that the reason that he may have this is because is wants to show that before the war, he saw the whole of the country as being very much selfish and only concerned about themselves.
- Word count: 1229
In Act One of 'An Inspector Calls' how does J.B. Priestley convey his concerns and ideas to the audience, as well as involve and interest them in the play?
were said to be inevitable, and some that most people like The Birlings just believed would never happen, such as the titanic sinking and the war. Some events that weren't mentioned, but were conveyed in the moral values, would have changed The Birlings' life dramatically. The Birlings were typical examples of higher class citizens and they had typical views towards lower class citizens. They believed that lower class citizens did not have the right to ask for more pay, or live as higher class did.
- Word count: 1457
In Act One of 'An Inspector Calls' how does J.B. Priestly use devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience, as well as interest and involve them in his play?
The play was written at the time when Labour was in power and socialism seemed like the future. Priestly used the play to change some people's way of thinking and his aim was probably to teach the unconvinced. An example of where Priestly uses the idea of social responsibility is in act 3 where the inspector tries to teach the Birlings this idea. "We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish."
- Word count: 2583
In act one of 'An Inspector calls' how does J B Priestley use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas
This makes us think how we can apply this to our own lives and help us change as people. J B Priestley uses a variety of dramatic devices to influence and gain the attention of the audience; one of these devices is dramatic irony. He uses this device very well, for example he talks about how technology has got to its greatest and how it can't get any better. He talks about the Titanic and how it's Britain's greatest invention and is unsinkable. This is ironic to the audience as at the time they are performing these events have already happened, and they know for example that the titanic did sink.
- Word count: 787
Priestley uses dramatic irony to emphasise this point. This is because the play was written in 1945 but set in 1912. Mr. Birling talks about how a war will not occur; "Just because the Kaiser makes a speech or two, a few German officers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense, you'll hear some people say war's inevitable. And to that I say - fiddlesticks! The Germans don't want war". Ironically, World War I (which is considered the war to end all wars) occurred in just two years after Mr.
- Word count: 1108
Comment on the effect the Inspector's visit has on the main characters in "An Inspector Calls"? What dramatic techniques does Priestley employ and to what effect? What was Priestley's aim?
However he is not unaffected as at the start of the interview when he believes he has no part in a murder investigation he is almost unflappable but when he starts to realise that he has affected Eva Smith he becomes exceptionally defensive and almost aggressive to hide to scare the Inspector into dropping his "charges" against Birling. However he never loses his belief that "a man has to mind his own business and look after himself" even when it seems clear, to the audience, that his credo is proving the downfall of common mankind.
- Word count: 2366
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.
- Word count: 3430
We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." How does J.B Priestly show us the truth of these words
Socialists want equality between all classes and the feeling of friendship and community to extend between everyone. The class system dominates society and as those in the upper classes tend to be capitalists they get the highest jobs in society, therefore control whether our society is socialist or capitalist. There is no welfare state in these days due to the capitalist beliefs so how can they expect lower classes to dig themselves out of poverty? Because these poor people have no money do the rich feel them so worthless they allow them to starve to death? This was not unheard of in 1912 yet few upper classes found this unacceptable.
- Word count: 1173
The first 10 pages (until the inspector) arrives are important in terms of setting the scene & establishing the characters.
Here the playwright has played with names as Brumley is a made-up place. Birling is also a name that is made up its make the audience think of a high status and wealth! Priestley opens the book with stage directions; this sets the scene for the audience. He puts it in detail so that when the play would be played, it will be the way Priestley wants it. Also if too much is changed the messages might not go through to the audience. When the curtain is raised the audience will see that the four Birling's and Gerald Croft will be seated at the table, the audience will not know that Gerald is not part of their family, until later on in the play.
- Word count: 1059
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.
- Word count: 3070
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.
- Word count: 3074
Birling is expecting Gerald Croft to combine businesses. This character also shows that he only cares about himself when he says that: "you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive - community and that all that nonsense. But take my word for it, you youngsters - and I've learnt in the good hard school of experience - that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own" The sentence above tells that Arthur Birling is a very ambitious and competitive man, it also suggests helping others may slow your process to achieve your aims, which is not what he expects from a good society.
- Word count: 1061
The play "An Inspector calls" is written by J.B Priestley. In this essay I am going to discuss "Two characters from inspector calls and the way in which J.B Priestley shows emotional change they go through during the progression of the play". The play is
The play was written in 1945 at the end of World War Two. J.B Priestley wrote the play to try and make people change from what they were. In this context the inspector could be seen as a voice for J.B Priestley himself. Mr Birling, I Feel has no self pity all he cares about is himself and his profits, Because when the inspector reveals that Eva smith was a former employee of Birlings and company and had been sacked from the factory by mr birling himself for wanting a small wage rise, Mr Birling obviously refuses "It's my duty to keep labour costs down".
- Word count: 895
This again makes the ending more effective with a greater impact on the audience. At the end of the scene it becomes apparent that Eva Smith had stopped taking money because she had reason to believe it was stolen, also he gets Mrs. Birling to say that the father of the child is to blame and should publicly apologize. Then it comes apparent that the Inspector has suspicion to believe the father is Eric. This shocks Mrs. Birling and it seems Shelia knew the Inspector was doing this.
- Word count: 1350
* Gerald took advantage of Daisy's feelings by sleeping with her. His feelings were clear; he said "I didn't feel about her as she felt about me." The truth is Gerald just played with her feelings and used her for his own lust. * Gerald realises it was his fault; he said "she didn't blame me at all I wish she had now." Gerald acknowledges that he could of done something in her favour to help her survive instead of just giving her money which would be the easy and fast way out.
- Word count: 559
Eva Smith was the victims name which she then later changes to Daisy Renton. She was the girl who suffered the most as her life was so bad she turned to suicide! At one time or another, a member of the Birling family had hurt a girl of the same description 'lively good-looking girl-country bred' 'she was very pretty-sort brown hair and big grey eyes' these were the exact words from first Mr Birling and secondly Gerald. Gerald took this very badly and suffered from his guilt which was destroying him from the way he acted towards this girl who had killed herself, but it wasn't just him, oh no, every member of the Birling family had helped the girl to her suicide.
- Word count: 2631
However despite this all through the play we get to see conflict between the younger generations views and Mr Birling's for example when Mr Birling expresses his optimist views 'there isn't a chance of war' and the Titanic is 'unsinkable.' Eric interacts 'yes, I know but still' this shows he wants to state his view but Mr Birling stops him by stating that he has too much to learn yet. The statements Mr Birling makes regarding the wars and titanic would be a very irrelevant comment to make in 1912 as everyone knows that there will be war and the
- Word count: 1342