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How does Priestley use characters, events andsettings to get the audience to think about important issues and ideas?

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Introduction

How does Priestley use characters, events and settings to get the audience to think about important issues and ideas? At first glance, this play simply seems to be about one average middle class family. The play evolves to show that their actions not only affect them but, others around them. This play is about more than just one family's problems. It demonstrates that any action a person takes could seriously affect another's life. We learn about each of the characters in the way that they respond to and answer the inspector's questions. J.B Priestley gives each of his characters a flaw that represents to various degrees of the seven deadly sins. These are pride, sloth, gluttony, envy, covetousness, lust and anger. Each of the character's relationships with the dead girl is based on their character flaw. This gives us the chance to explore her death from many different angles and how all the seemingly small events build up and push her towards committing suicide. Earlier medieval audiences would have believed they would be sentenced to hell. The more modern audiences would be familiar with the effects of war, so would be perceptive to the hints that Priestly lays throughout the play. They all look down on the dead girl and feel they are higher in society than her. This demonstrates how important class status was in that time, and how expectations have changed. J. B Priestley describes his image of Arthur Birling, the father of the family to be a "rather portentous" man. He is portrayed as being very confident in himself and thinks that because he is a well established business man, every thing he says must be true. He describes himself as a "hard headed practical man of business." He is a ruthless boss and thinks he knows everything about everything. He lectures the younger generation and talks down to them, "you youngsters just remember what I said." ...read more.

Middle

and Mrs. Birling are so obsessed that it will become. When the inspector leaves, he tells the family that he thinks they won't forget what they have done. "There are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us." The inspector reminds them that there are still many people stuck in the same situation as the girl focused on in the play. The inspector relays his beliefs that their lives are "all intertwined with our lives." This is totally the opposite of what Mr. Birling had previously been telling Eric and Gerald. The fact that Mr. Birling doesn't stand up and inform the inspector that he thinks differently demonstrates that he feels inferior to him. "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." This is Priestley's thought on why the war started and how, if we all looked after one another and became responsible for more than ourselves, people would be able to get on better. The inspector seems to lecture the family a lot almost preaching. The inspector was meant to teach the audience about being caught between the religious need for goodness and the temptation of evil. He represents a reverend teaching a church audience the difference between right and wrong, and if there were to commit a crime they would be sentenced to "fire and blood and anguish." When they find out that the inspector isn't a real police officer, Mr. and Mrs. Birling and Gerald laugh at what they perceive to be a hoax. Sheila and Eric are serious and aware of the consequences of their actions. Gerald is the one who informs the family of this news. He is relieved and relaxed knowing that he hadn't just confessed to a real police officer. As soon as Mr. Birling discovers this new evidence he feels triumphant, as if he has won something. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her readiness to learn from experience is in great contrast to her parents � very compact structure to the play, nothing is allowed to distract the audience from the central theme. There is no sub-plot � the play takes place in just one location, the action is continuous (NB Priestley observes the Unities) � Act One begins by introducing the characters and establishing the idea of a happy and united family looking forward to the future with a degree of confidence. In retrospect, there are a number of hints that all is not as it seems but these are not particularly obvious until later in the play. There is nothing to warn us of the shock of the Inspector's visit � events soon gather speed and it is not long before we are being informed of Birling and Sheila's involvement with Eva Smith � tensions increase, firstly as Gerald's affair is unveiled (and the scandal it would cause) and Sheila begins to realise that they are all implicated in some way 'he is giving us rope - so that we=ll hang ourselves'. � Mrs Birling's attempts to shift the blame for the girl's suicide leads her to blame the father of the unborn child. The tension is heightened at this point by the dramatic entrance of Eric. � with the departure of the Inspector it would appear that what follows will be something of an anti-climax as the Inspector's identity is put into doubt by a series of observations made by the Birling family and Gerald. Even the existence of Eva is called into question. � however, the tension remains to some extent as the two generations confirm the differences as suggested by the Inspector - the moral divide is very great indeed � the final denouement, the phone call announcing that a police inspector is on his way to ask some questions about a girl who has just died in the infirmary is as shocking as it is surprising and ensures that the audience will leave the auditorium in a state of real shock Godfrey Pablo English coursework Candidate No:8029 ...read more.

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