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

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Explore the way the characters between different generations is developed in An Inspector Calls In the play An Inspector Calls, written in 1946 by Mr J.B Priestley, there are two contrasting generations, the old and new. These characters are developed as the play unfolds. The play is set before World War 1, in 1912. This period was drastically different to the one in which it was written, 1946, with the social classes being much farther apart and the welfare state being non-existent. In this essay I will look at how the characters Sheila and Arthur Birling change over the course of the play, and how the generation gap affects this. These characters have been chosen because they, in my opinion, differ the most out of any two characters in the play. I will firstly look at how Sheila is portrayed when we first meet her at the start of the play. In the first act the Birling family is having dinner to celebrate Sheila marrying Gerald Croft, a lucrative decision for both of the families. Sheila is shown as sarcastic and playful when she says ?(with mock aggressiveness) Go on Gerald- just you object!? This sentence implies that Sheila likes to joke around with Gerald, which was actually in contrast to how women were supposed to act in that period, showing early on that she is also quite rebellious. ...read more.


He does not really care about the death; just if there will be any consequences. When Sheila has heard of her part in Eva?s death, she regrets what she has done, when she says ? I?ll never, never do it again to anybody? The use of the word ?never? two times emphasises that she means it , and shows that she is deeply horrified by her actions. She even says that if she could help Eva she would, even though she knows that she is of lower social status than her. This shows a change in her character from a playful and carefree one into a serious, responsible one. Birling has very little change in the middle of the play, unlike Sheila. When the inspector is questioning his wife about Eva, the inspector simply says that she is lying to him about what she knows, and Birling orders him to apologise, for ?being so offensive about it?. He also says ?I?m a public man? after doing so, showing he thinks that just because he is a higher class than the Inspector, he thinks that he has the right to argue with him. This portrays him as thinking that this is the most important thing, and that it will intimidate or impress the inspector. He does not understand what he has done wrong, and how the inspector does not care at all if he is a ?public man?. ...read more.


He is angry that he will not get his knighthood, not that he killed someone and even says that ?there?s every excuse for what both your mother and I did-it turned out unfortunately, that?s all?. This shows that he has learnt nothing from the inspector?s visit, unlike the younger generation who recognise their wrongdoings, and thinks that the situation turned out merely ?unfortunately?, and Sheila sees that it was much worse than just unfortunate, as she scornfully repeats ?unfortunately? after he says this. ?Excuse? implies that he thinks that what he did wasn?t bad, and he thinks it was justified. He also doesn?t care that Eric has raped Eva, just as long as he pays back the money he took from him, implying he is greedy and is very materialistic, a trait shown with him getting angry about the knighthood, as I mentioned earlier. In conclusion, I think that the younger generation in An Inspector Calls is developed drastically, while the older one does not change at all. Sheila becomes a strong and serious woman, and would probably join the suffragette movement after the events of the play, as at the time of the play it was coming to fruition. Birling, I think, would most likely carry on as normal, until the welfare state was put into place. As a final point, I also think that Priestley has done a very effective job of making the old ways of the rich being selfish and cold look barbaric and convincing readers to never go back to that time. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

There is a good understanding of characters shown in this essay and some analysis of language, structure and form. I would like to to see some more in depth analysis of these three areas and more of a focus on the question from the very start of the essay.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 24/06/2013

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