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What opinions do you think the audience at the first performance in London in 1946 would have formed about Mr Birling(TM)s character from this first part of an inspector calls?

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What opinions do you think the audience at the first performance in London in 1946 would have formed about Mr Birling's character from this first part of the play? "An inspector calls" is a play written by J.B. Priestly in 1946, but is set in 1912. These two dates contrast quire well for a number of reasons. The economy in 1912 was very different because everyone cared about themselves before other people and there was a lot more money in circulation. This made the divide between upper and lower class very poignant. Also social etiquette was quite different in 1912. Although Mrs Birling is seen as having a higher social standing than her husband, as she was born into money and money has always been in her family ("Old Money") whereas Mr Birling made his money in his life ("New Money"), she still obeys him as back then men were seen as superior to women. This view changed by 1946 as women got the power to vote which signified them being equal to men. The main plot of this play is about a family, the Birlings, and how each of them impacted a young woman's life in a cruel way which led to her eventual suicide. It is set in Brumly London and all scenes are played out in the Birlings family home. ...read more.


Another is that the crofts have more of a social standing compared to him so he thinks if he's associated with them then he too will gain a higher social reputation. Again, the audience would view Mr Birling in the same way they did in the first section- A rich man but one who still wants to impress. They would also probably see him as a man who has worked hard to get to where he is in life. Mr Birling obviously doesn't know what will happen in the future (World war 1 and 2) so when he makes a speech about war he makes it almost jokingly. " Just because the Kaiser makes a speech or two, or a few German officers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense, you'll hear some people say that wars inevitable....I say- Fiddlesticks!" He goes on to say that nobody wants war except "Some half-civilized folk in the Balkans" This shows his ignorance and opinion about the possibility of war. He also thinks "There's too much at stake these days. Everything to lose and nothing to gain by war." This part of his speech was right and shows that there is a less opinionated, more thoughtful part of him. His attitude would make him disliked when the play was produced, as the audience had just lived through 2 world wars so they would not like the fact that he was brushing the possibilities away un-thoughtfully. ...read more.


Mr. Birling treats his wife and his daughter in the way that men normally treated women in that time. He convinces his wife to drink some port even though she did not want to and he stops his daughter admiring her new wedding ring so that she listens to him. This is showing that he is very self-important and that he still believes his needs and wants are more important than the needs of his wife or daughter. During his talk with Eric and Gerald, Mr. Birling talks about community and his opinion on it. "Community and all that nonsense... A man has to mind his own business and look after himself". This is very good at showing how selfish Mr Birling actually is, as he says everyone should care only about themselves. This wouldn't have been taken nicely in 1946 as everyone was working as a community to repair the damage made from the war. So through this statement, Mr Birling would be made to look very self-centred. By the end of this small part of the play, the audience would already have a very clear view of how Mr Birling is personally. They would most probably see him as a rich self-centred businessman who still wants to impress people of a higher social standing than himself and who still has very traditional views on a number of things including work, the role of women and stereotypes about other countries. ...read more.

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