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An Inspector Calls

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'An Inspector Calls' Explore Priestley's presentation of Mr Birling in Act One of 'An Inspector calls.' The play 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945, just after the Second World War, and was set in 1912.This is purposefully done by it's playwright J.B Priestley, to convey a significant message about the morals and common social beliefs of the time. Priestley masterfully does this through the use of the Birling family; as a typical representative for people in high society. Through the Birling family, we come to recognise different attitudes between the new and old generation. The most notable character, and strong representative of the older generation is Mr Birling. Mr Birling is depicted as being 'pompous' and 'portentous' by Priestley. Such negative attributes portray him as an unpleasant person. Through the use of 'dramatic irony', Birling is also represented as foolish, and somewhat conceited. Another benefit of Priestley's use of 'dramatic irony' is that the audience are granted the advantage of knowing what happens after 1912; and so when Mr Birling declared that war would never happen or that the 'Titanic' was unsinkable, the audience had the advantage of knowing that both events did occur, what is more this makes Mr Birling look extremely foolish. This is made worse by the fact that Mr Birling conducts himself as over confident. ...read more.


I think, through 'dramatic irony', he also wanted to highlight how na�ve Mr Birling was, despite giving the impression that he was all-knowing. I think Priestly used Mr Birling as muse to translate to people that his attitude of acting superior and his false certainty that he knew all were not how people should behave, and that was how they were behaving. I think Many people did not take responsibility for each other and lived selfishly, but the destruction of the war brought on a strong sense of community spirit, as people realised they need not be selfish and began to look after each other, as one does not know how unexpectedly things can change. I think Priestly conveyed this message by ridiculing Mr Birling and make his laughable to the audience. The Character of Mr Birling does seem be driven by money and success, and in doing so, gives the audience the impression that there was not a lot he wouldn't do, to boost financial prospects for his business "Birling and Company." Evidence for this is the arranged marriage between Gerald and Sheila. Mr Birling saw their marriage as an opportunity for his company to unite with Gerald's family company "...to work together for lower costs and higher prices." ...read more.


This shows his extreme self-interest and also re-establishes his uncaring attitude. Another point that bears mentioning is when Mrs Birling reveals her role in the suicide of Eva Smith. The first thing Mr Birling says is: "I must say Sybil, that when this comes out at the inquest, it isn't going to do us much good, The press might take it up." This shows that Mr Birling has no regret for his part responsibility in Eva's suicide apart from her death; which would leave his status in ruins, thus destroying his chance of a Knighthood. This presents Mr Birling as quite cold hearted, as whilst most people would show remorse, his part in the girls death seems to leave no scratch upon his conscience. To recapitulate, The Character of Mr Birling is, in a nutshell presented as business minded, conceited, cold-hearted and arrogant. His character is certainly one that demands presence, which you could refer to as being 'larger than life.' He has mainly negative attributes which make him a dislikeable character. Through J.B Priestley's use of 'dramatic irony', suspense and stage direction, he uses the character of Mr Birling to convey message of equality and positions in Society. Priestley does this by conveying attitudes that are morally wrong, in Mr Birling, and ridiculing them. It is fair to say, then, the Character of Mr Birling is the true essence of the play. ...read more.

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