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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.
This creates a huge effect on the audience, as it gets them to agree with what the Inspector is saying, as the audience already know that these things have happened. The audience would listen to the views of the Inspector not only because the Inspector is omniscient and the fact that he's always right but because they would see Mr Birling as unreliable and disregard everything he says, this adds to the authority the Inspector has in the play. Priestley uses the role of the Inspector as the instigator of development in the play, the Inspector controls the plot of the play, nothing moves along without his say "one person and one line of enquiry at a time".
- Word count: 1662
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 them in his play?
For example in 1912 the ruling classes saw no need to change the status quo; in 1945 there was a great desire for social change. Immediately after World War 2, Labour's Clement Attlee won a landslide election victory over the Conservative Winston Churchill. "An Inspector Calls" is a thriller; it uses dramatic devices to convey Priestley's concerns and ideas to the members of the audience, as well as interest and involve them in his play. Priestley uses dramatic irony successfully very early on the play to convey his concerns and ideas, by making Mr Birling look foolish and to show us how arrogant the upper class was during 1912.
- Word count: 1361
Mrs Birling does not know the habits of her own son even though they live under the same roof. Another issue with the drink is when Eric asks his father if he is allowed one and Birling shouts no yet the Inspector says Eric needs this drink to see him through. Eric's own father is unable to see Eric's physical needs. Eric is from a younger generation who let their hair down once in a while and have a few drinks. They can often end up getting drunk which can result in them becoming pretty nasty and maybe even ending up having a sexual encounter with a girl.
- Word count: 862
It is not until later that we discover this must be because of his having stolen some money. After the exposition follows the entrances. In an Inspector Calls, all the main characters (excluding the Inspector) are already on stage when the curtain lifts. However, the positioning of the characters, the stage layout, lighting and the costumes can still present a lot about their characters. Priestley describes the set in Act One as "the dining-room of a large suburban house". Such a set gives the sense of a rich, prosperous businessman and provides an idea of the period (1912).
- Word count: 952
In my essay I am going to look at how much moral responsibility the characters in An Inspector Calls accept for the death of Eva Smith/ Daisy Renton and also how the characters reflect the period the play was set in.
Priestley uses the characters in "An Inspector Calls" to criticize attitudes of the society by showing how the upper class looked down on the lower class like the way Mr. and Mrs. Birling did to Eva. Mr. Birling uses his authority to get Eva sacked from his company. Sheila had used her power to get Eva fired. Gerald was overwhelmed by fear and left her just because she was not from the same class. Eric had used his power to use Eva as a prostitute and Mrs.
- Word count: 2894
What does the study of words and actions of the Birling family tell you about attitudes to guilt and responsibility at the time of the play?
"All five are in evening dress of the period." The tone is very light hearted and everyone seems to be getting on brilliantly. Sheila's engagement to Gerald means a lot to Arthur Birling. The marriage means Birling would hopefully be able to work with Gerald's dad in business. "Working together- for lower costs and higher prices." Mrs Birling also feels the marriage is important because Sheila is marrying into a higher social status and a very wealthy family. Mr Birling describes this as "one of the happiest days of my life."
- Word count: 1230
He focuses his themes on the major dilemmas of which happened in post Victorian and pre-World War 1 Britain. The Birlings are, on the fa�ade a picturesque family, but they are over indulgent and abuse money by continuously opting for the more expensive things in life. Apart from the obvious theme of class system, I personally believe that one of the main theme is religion, well the lack of. The Birlings are enjoying some port ''Giving us the port Edna?'' suggests the consumption of blood due to the wine being of a deep red colour, thus it resembles the truth that the family are devilish and are murderous without being aware of their crimes and are possessed with an evil spirit or have lost all sense of morality due to money becoming their topmost passion instead of God .
- Word count: 2718
Explain how far Priestley uses the features of a Well Made Play to create additional tense and suspension in an Inspector Calls.
Due to Inspector Calls being a play it had to grip the audience from the off. Priestley didn't have time to create intricate 3-D personality, or mysterious subtle personas. Instead his characters have to be blunt, and rather stereotypical, so the audience could instantly feel acquainted with them. The entrances and exits are key feature in the play 'Inspector Calls'. The entrances and exits provide a platform for very bold moments within the play. The manner in which a character can enter a room can dictate the majority of the remaining scene, a character leaving a scene can also have a similar effect.
- Word count: 1015
An Inspector Calls. The play has many dramatic moments, explore these in relation to how the conflict in the play shows morality and responsibility
Sheila enters the room very happily not noticing the arrival of the Inspector and is not aware of the tension between the inspector and her father. Sheila at the start of the play has no major concerns except her own issues with the marriage between herself and Gerald she seems to be dandy. 'What was she like quite young? ... Pretty' at hearing the news of Eva smiths death Sheila does show concern and empathy however she questions the inspector about her age also whether she was pretty making it seem that Sheila is only concerned with appearance and looks and that only those aspects of life are important to her.
- Word count: 2816
you're father gets from him.' Priestly expresses this as Birling tries to impress Gerald with a port. Gerald Croft is Old money. This shows that the higher the class you are the more respect you will get. We can also see that new money respect Old Money and that Old money look down on new Money. Priestley also expresses that Working class have a lot of respect for Old money as Edna 'Yes Ma'am' Mrs Birling is of a higher social status than Edna, therefore Edna addresses Mrs Birling as ma'am. We can also see that Mr Birling, who is new money, has a lot of respect for Old money as he addresses Gerald's Father as 'Sir Croft'.
- Word count: 932
then changes the fun and innocent mood of the group and introduces a new character called Combo. He was Woody's old friend who had spent three years in prison. Combo represents all the negatives that come to mind with the skinhead label, unlike the happy, friendly others. Combo is a racist and immediately splits the group of friends into two; one group with Woody just simply wanting friendship and the other following Combo who wants to take action and is a terrible racist. Combo persuades Sean that it was some Asians fault that his dad died and for him to follow Combo.
- Word count: 1418
Priestley was a socialist, and was very concerned about social inequality in Britain. In the aftermath of the Second World War, class distinctions had been considerably reduced and the capitalist social hierarchy of 1912 had been replaced with a socialist one, where everyone was equal and were identically responsible for each other. Priestley did not want the British public to resort back to capitalism, and wrote 'An Inspector Calls' to demonstrate how better off they were with a more socialist society. In 'An Inspector Calls', Priestley uses Arthur Birling as a representative of the typical 'New Rich' man in a capitalist society.
- Word count: 672
I refused of course' 'it's my duty to keep the labour costs down'. This shows that Mr. Birling only thinks of how he can get more money and does not think about the working class; it also shows his ignorance to paying the littlest bit more money to workers, and when the inspector finishes and Birling finds out he is partly responsible he offers money to the inspector, 'Look, Inspector - I'd give thousands, yes thousands...You're offering the money at the wrong time.' These quotes show how selfish Mr. Birling is and shows how much he is willing to pay to keep this quite for his knighthood on the next honours list.
- Word count: 1821
This was a marriage that would have resulted in the merging of two successful local businesses. Suddenly, at the moment everything was going well and according to clockwork, they received a horrifying visit from the inspector, who was investigating the suicide of a young girl (Eva Smith). Each member of the Birling Family has a deviating attitude to responsibility. Inspector Goole wanted each member of the family to share the responsibility of the death of Eva Smith, as he tells them, "Each of you helped to kill her." Here the inspector mentions collective responsibility, everyone in society is linked, in the identical way that the characters in the play are linked to Eva smith.
- Word count: 1836
How does J.B Priestley lay foundations for the downfall of the Birling Household within Act 1 of An Inspector Calls?
Another one of the problems with Birling is his poor judgment as it renders the family really rather vulnerable against things in the future that are unpredictable. "We're in for a long period of increasing prosperity" he says. However, again, through the median of dramatic irony the audience knows that as the play is set in 1912 the Great War, one of the most destructive and devastating events in the whole of history, is about to take place. So if Birling is so overly confident about such direly important matters (and is wrong about them more often than not)
- Word count: 2823
and Gerald Croft, the son of the .................. of high ........... business corporation company Crofts Limited. The Birlings are a high-class, prosperous, family and Mr Birling (a hard-headed business man', a rich business man who thinks very highly of himself), who is the head of Birling and Company, is pleased at the business opportunity in the engagement of Sheila to Gerald. In a speech he announces at the dinner table, he speaks mainly to Gerald; '"Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time now-thought Crofts Limited are both older and bigger than Birling and Company-and now you've brought us together, and perhaps we
- Word count: 1071
Sheila seems to change dramatically throughout the course of the play she begins by being dependant on her parents and as the stage directions state "pleased with her life". However by the end of the play Sheila is able to form her own opinions and able to take responsibility unlike her father and mother. An example of this is she tells her parents that they may not go on like they have done before despite becoming aware of the inspector as a fake she says "you're pretending everything is just as it was before".
- Word count: 1072
when Mr Birling speaks of how he played golf with the chief constable in a threatening manner the inspector simply replies "I don't play golf". The Inspector believes in equality hence speaks to Mrs Birling as he would anyone else . Contradictory to this Mrs Birling due to the social hierarchy thinks he ought to pay her some respect despite her actions ,which she believes are justified .An example of this is when they find the inspector to be a hoax she makes a comment "a real inspector wouldn't talk to us like that".
- Word count: 951
An Inspector Calls Essay Timing and stage directions are central to the text as a play. What is the role of these techniques in the play?
Stage directions at the start of the play establish a typical murder mystery. Everyone's "pleased with themselves" and "are celebrating a special occasion". All characters are on stage, the murder has happened before the play which keeps the audience interested. The audience doesn't see the event emphasising the dramatical element of the play. Furthermore when the inspector comes in, "cutting in" on Birling's speech on "community and all that nonsense" demonstrates that the inspector clearly disagrees with him. Also this proves that Birling is a valid culprit in the play as when Eric mentions Birling's speech on "community and all that nonsense" in front the inspector leaving Birling embarrassed.
- Word count: 1408
How Does Priestley Use A Play That Seems To Be About An Ordinary Middle-class Family To Convey His Political Ideas To His Audience?
Then "the Titanic... - unsinkable" - again the Titanic sinks only a few months after the play is set. And also "there's a lot of wild talk about possible labour trouble in the near future" and again there were a large number of strikes around the time of the play. Everything Birling says is made to make him sound like he merely likes the sound of his own voice but in fact knows nothing, and he also slanders socialists calling them "cranks" and saying they "can't let all these Bernard Shaws and H.G.
- Word count: 1930
An Inspector Calls. The Inspector creates various tension in the family. As soon as he arrives he starts of explaining about a death.
he is not generally talking about how pretty she is, but mainly how she had been a generous person or what she had been through, as you should remember Priestley is using the inspector as a tool. The inspector was no pushover he also shows to stand his ground as when Eric says "I better turn in" the inspector says "and I think you'd better stay here" here he is standing his ground and also making his role, he does this as Priestley is showing that a rich family cant get away with everything.
- Word count: 1269
Analyse the dramatic qualities of Mr. Birlings speech on pages 9/10 of Act1 of An Inspector Calls and the Inspector Gooles speech on page 56 of Act 3.
Birling's character is depicted as an obnoxious, stubborn and self obsessed man. Mr Birling comes across as a show-off in the first act where the engagement scene is commencing. Firstly he gets rid of the women in the room and before he gives his famous lecture on how he feels about the community and socialists including HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw, Mr Birling sits and talks in a formal manner with his back straight and a class of wine in his hand.
- Word count: 1809
Inspector calls - Analyse the dramatic impact of the revelations that Mrs.Birling turned down Evas request for help, that Eva was expecting a baby and that Eric was the father of the child.
Mr.Birling is depicted as a selfish, obnoxious man who cares about none but his own. Mr.Birling was a Capitalist; Priestly depicts a very strong image of Capitalist through Mr.Birling. Mr.Birling does not play much of a role in this act and seems to have very little to say. At the start of the play Mr.Birling is very confident when speaking to the inspector, he believes he has done nothing wrong and doesn't seem to care about the poor girl Eva.
- Word count: 2322
Examine the dramatic impact of the Inspector final speech and explain how Priestly uses his entrance to convey the central message of his play.
Effects of this are showed by the champagne glass and everything else is that they are a wealthy family able to afford such luxuries such as alcohol and cigarettes. They is pink an intimate lighting that will soon change when is Inspector come to show the change in mood. The table is not fully dressed but because of the wealth of the Birling's it will not be because they are poor. "Which has no cloth" maybe because the table is so grade and fancy that they wanted to show it of with the family being is rich this table will help so off their wealth and look more rich.
- Word count: 1840
How does the play highlight the contrasts between the different philosophies of Arthur Birling and Inspector Goole?
And so gives the audience a hint that the celebrations the family are enjoying at the start of the play will be stopped shortly. In the play the audience meets Birling first. This is important because Birling is the first person the inspector questions. This way we get to learn about Birling's character and views. If we had not learned about Birling's snobbish views of the working class we may have thought he made a fair decision: "There's nothing scandalous or mysterious about the business."
- Word count: 2924