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This essay will be exploring why and how J.B Priestley presents Arthur Birling in this remarkable play An Inspector Calls.

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Introduction

'An Inspector Calls' - John Boynton Priestley John Boynton Priestley or probably better known as J.B Priestley is widely regarded as one of England's greatest play writers. As well as writing and creating brilliant plays Priestley was also known for his great intriguing novels. As an English novelist Priestley published more than 100 hundred novels most notably 'the good companions' in 1929. However, away from his successful novels, Mr Priestley was also the author of the famous and fascinating 'An Inspector Calls' play. J.B Priestly was a playwright who found inspiration from his life and experiences during world war one and two to create such egocentric but ordinary characters at the time, which eventually resulted in change in society. This essay will be exploring why and how J.B Priestley presents Arthur Birling in this remarkable play 'An Inspector Calls'. J.B Priestley was born in Bradford, Yorkshire on the 13th September 1894. From early age Priestly studied at the Bradford school, however his education and career was interrupted due to service in World War 1. Priestly then made his breakthrough in 1927, where he published 'the good companions' which was very popular and gained huge success in the US and England. Though his play was set in the spring of 1912, the actual play was written in 1945. This is purposefully done by Priestley to convey an important message about the morals and common social beliefs at the time. It is a play that attacks the social mores and attitudes of the time. In the time of Priestley people only seemed to look after themselves, their time and attention was not spent on the community but on themselves, Priestley had believed in social welfare and caring for the vulnerable. Mr Priestley was a socialist who believed that every person had the responsibility to look after others and not see any difference in classes. To portray his thoughts and beliefs he set his play in 1912, a time where there was a big division between the rich and poor. ...read more.

Middle

Sheila feels angry at Eva because she smirks when Sheila tries on a hat, knowing that it doesn't suit her. This triggers Sheila's temper immediately and she uses her power as the daughter of a wealthy businessman to get Eva fired. The inspector questions Sheila on this event, "and was it the girls fault?" Sheila immediately answers "no, not really, it was my own fault" and then snaps at Gerald "I expect you've done things you're ashamed of too" Sheila is one of the characters to accept the blame and is ashamed of it too. There are also signs of agitation as she snaps at Gerald showing guilt. The inspector's goal seems to be achieved by putting the characters in a position to want to change, "If I could help her now." After hearing what her father had to say about his part in Eva Smith's death, Sheila is rightly shocked and immediately makes it clear that she is saddened by what her father did. She questions her father after dismissing Eva, "Did you, dad?" She also shows compassion and thought for Eva after hearing of her father's treatment towards his employees. "But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people." It is at this point where the audience's negative attributes of Sheila at the start of the play take a u-turn. After showing care and thought, she is now looked at as a caring and honest young girl, and this is largely because she acknowledges her part in Eva's Death and is ashamed. The audience also see's Sheila from a different but positive prospective after her reaction to Mr Birling's unfair dismissal of Eva Smith. Sheila feels as if the least she can do is be honest to herself and open up cleanly which would make herself feel better, "At least, I'm trying to tell the truth." She knows that she's done wrong but she shows maturity to be honest and truthful about the whole incident. ...read more.

Conclusion

This attitude shown by Mr Birling encourages the audience to side with Eva Smith. Only Sheila and Eric begin to understand that they are all people and that together they are part of the community. Mr Birling underestimates Shelia's intelligence and maturity. Sheila says "he's giving us the rope - so that we'll hang ourselves", but Birling does not listen. This seems to make Sheila more supportive to her brother's views more. She is angry with her parents for trying to "pretend that nothing much has happened." Sheila says, "It frightens me the way you talk:" she cannot understand how they haven't learnt from the events in the same way that she has. The children appear to be more open to change, unlike the parents who are very protective of their ways. The relationships in the family weaken as the truth is revealed and the young are shown to be more likely to learn from their mistakes than the old who are too set in their ways. Priestley would like us to change and uses the attitudes of Mr Birling and his stubborn wife to make the audience realise the consequences of selfish actions. Priestley wants us to realise that we must be responsible for each other and live together as "members of one body". Priestley was trying to convey responsibility and socialism to us. He shows he is very serious about it as well as he shows through the inspector, if we do not learn from this and irresponsibility keeps going on then we will be taught in "fire and blood and anguish."The emotive verbs such as "anguish" add seriousness to his speech and triggers emotion in the other characters and audience. He uses the rule of three to add force to what he is saying. With these devices Priestley can forcefully put across his message to the audience. He can easily prompt emotion in the audience like this and persuade them to change their ways. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rezaul Miah 11v English Literature Coursework 'An Inspector Calls' ...read more.

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