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GCSE: J.B. Priestley
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John Boynton Priestley's biography
- 1 He was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He left school at sixteen because he believed that the world outside the classroom would help him become a writer. He said that it was the years 1911-14 ‘that set their stamp upon me’.
- 2 When World War One broke out in 1914, Priestley joined the infantry and by the time he left the army in 1919, he had seen active front-line service and narrowly escaped being killed. These experiences were to influence his future writing.
- 3 When he left the army he went to Cambridge University and although he finished his degree, he did not like academia and went to London to work as a freelance writer.
- 4 He soon became a successful writer of essays and novels and in 1932 he wrote his first play Dangerous Corner to prove that he could adapt his style for the stage. He soon established himself as a leading figure in the London theatre.
- 5 When World War Two broke out in 1939 Priestley continued to write his plays, while also writing and broadcasting on BBC radio. During this time he was producing his best work and wrote An Inspector Calls (1945) about the effects of an individual’s actions and the consequences of those actions.
- Marked by Teachers essays 21
She constantly changes and develops as the Story is told. From a happy normal women whose about to get married, changing stance with knowledge of the affair becoming disappointed and heart broken and then finding out that she had contributed to the Eva Smiths death making her emotions dramatic and to the audience she is the thoughtful character that everyone loves. There is great irony in Sheila's character as when the Inspector first comes round and as he is questioning Birling, she says how mean he is like "I think it was a mean thing to do" and "But these girls aren't cheap labour- there people" which is her having
- Word count: 674
For example, early in the play Mr. Birling states: "I speak as a hard headed businessman...for lower costs and higher prices..." This shows he is willing to put his business profits before the welfare of other people. The opening section of the play is a starting point for Priestley's exploration as he uses Mr. Birling as a generic paradigm of the senseless and corrupt bourgeoisie everywhere. This is because the writer's message is also his socialist ideal - we should use our powers in society in a sensible manner as even the most seemingly insignificant actions can lead to the suffering of others.
- Word count: 971
Dramatic irony is used to reveal Mr Birling's character in Act1. "Some people say that war is inevitable. To that I say fiddlesticks." Judging from when the play was written and when it was set, it is clear to the audience that Priestly is showing Mr Birling to be an ignorant man who is soon to be proven wrong in his theory. Priestly creates a dramatic moment in a hysterical outburst from Sheila. "Why- you fool- he knows. Of course he knows." Sheila is the first person to realise the inspector's game and is the only person, at this point, who understands his reasons.
- Word count: 974
Inspector Calls essay. Act 2. In what ways does Priestley make this such a dramatic and significant moment in the play?3 star(s)
Priestly showing Shelia's greater understanding of the situation unlike her mother who seems to still be in belief that she "...done nothing wrong."It is conveyed that Mrs Birling sees Sheila and Eric still as "children" and speaks patronisingly to them. She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe: Eric's drinking, Gerald's affair with Eva, and the fact that a working class girl would refuse money even if it was stolen, claiming "She was giving herself ridiculous airs."She admits she was "prejudiced" against the girl who applied to her committee for help and saw it as her "duty" to refuse to help her.
- Word count: 809
He is concerned with his social standing and is, as the modern audience would call him, a snob. He is convinced he is going to get a knighthood and doesn't want any scandal to get in the way of it, "'there's a fair chance I might find my way into the next Honours List." This becomes more and more ironic as the play unfolds, as the audience begins to learn of the story that Mr Birling started. Birling sees himself as superior to many, especially the Inspector. "Well, if you don't mind. I'll find out first." When the Inspector claims he will find out the reason why Sheila ran out of the room, Birling must take a higher stand.
- Word count: 842
At the beginning of the play Sheila acts in a materialistic and stereotypical manner. An example of this is when she receives the ring from Gerald she states "it's perfect now I really feel engaged". This implies that the physical gift is the most important aspect which is an immature attitude towards marriage. In addition Sheila becomes upset and overwhelmed quite often, it is a stereotypical view of women to be oversensitive .This can be seen when the comment is passed to Sheila "you're behaving like a hysterical child tonight".
- Word count: 861
And has also wrote the Inspector is meant to be like "He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period. He speaks carefully, weightily and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking." The inspector has a way of getting information out of each member of the family even by using quite harsh words on them. I believe that the inspector meant to be seen as someone who has no time for the people he talks to and is shown when gets impatient with Mr Birling as he says "Don't stammer and yammer at me again man.
- Word count: 594
He is proud of his status and is a social climber. He sees him & wife as upholding 'right' values and as guardians of 'proper' conduct. Mr. Birling welcomes Gerald Croft into his family as he represents a business link between his firm and that of Gerald Croft's father (a rival). He has an honest approach to life, he tells the Inspector that he wouldn't listen to Eva Smith's demand for a wage rise, 'I refused, of course' and is surprised why anyone should question why. Mr. Birling strongly believes that 'a man has to make his own way.'
- Word count: 955
What Is The Dramatic Importance Of Inspector Goole's Character In Priestly's 'An Inspector Calls' And What Things Would A Director Need To Consider When Casting This Role3 star(s)
A director would have to consider this when casting the role. Inspector Goole has a great presence, 'he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'. Inspector Goole dominates the situation from the start and is not intimidated by Mr. Birling, Gerald Groft or anyone else in the family. Inspector Goole is always in control, '(taking charge masterfully)', he dominates the proceedings though-out the play, '(cooly, looking hard at him)', this also shows that Inspector Goole is not intimidated by anybody in the family and is in total control all the time.
- Word count: 768
In contrast to how Priestly has set out Mrs Birling originally, when the inspector comes to her house she greets him with a warm welcome. A quote to show this is: '(smiling, social) Good evening, Inspector.' From the stage directions we can see she is happy, joyful and seems to be in a good mood. However gradually throughout Act II Priestley does present Mrs Birling's character to mirror the original description and the audience are reassured that their original impressions of Mrs Birling's character were right all along.
- Word count: 620
Also at the end Arthur Birling hasn't still learning as Sheila says to him "the point is you don't seem to have learnt anything. This quote just shows us that he still hasn't learnt anything from this night even though his own family is involved. He is still worrying about his title. In the beginning Sheila didn't care about who the girl was that killed herself as she says "I couldn't be sorry for her" this quote shows us that she didn't care that she made Eva Smith get sacked from her job in Milwards.
- Word count: 583
This engages the observer as they are made to use imagination and therefore feel part of the tale. Keeping her an unknown character also allows J.B. Priestley to let the story unfold at a controlled pace. As each of the characters has their own stories about their brief encounter with the woman it means her characteristics can be revealed at different times. The fact her death was a suicide makes the play intriguing and we see her in a very different way than if she was still alive, she instantly becomes an embodiment of weakness and we show unconditional sympathy towards her.
- Word count: 698
I wish I didn't do it. Why did I do it? I knew it would end badly but still I went along and did it. I have to do this. I have to leave her, for everyone's sake if not mine. But I started to fall in love with her and now I am forced to leave her, never to see her again, but I will give her some money in order to keep her going for a while.
- Word count: 480
She shows her remorse by describing her feelings towards the injustice of the case. She says it's "a rotten shame" and says how girls like this are "people" and not just "cheap labour." She is also a realist, as she understands the inspector far better than the others, this causing drama and conflict between herself and others, for example, in acts two and three, we see that Sheila is trying to protect her mother from making the same mistake as she and her father had done.
- Word count: 746
Look again at the engagement party at the beginning of the party, up to the point where the Inspector first enters. In what ways does Priestley present Mr. Birling to us here so that we are prepared for his attitudes and behaviour in the rest of the play?
He is always looking forward that the two companies (belong to him and Gerald's dad) will merge sometime in the future. "and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together - for lower costs and higher prices." He is confident that his success as he mentions that "and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he's about" He is also confident that strikes and labour troubles will not be a problem. He says conflicts between workers and their bosses will come to nothing.
- Word count: 558
The Inspector remains calm and reserved throughout the play, expressing his opinion clinically, without involvement. This serves to make him appear as a much more intelligent character than the Birlings, who become emotionally involved in the play and as such behave irrationally. This emotional detachment could be as a result of him being a ghost, which is connoted by the Inspector introducing himself by the name 'Goole'. He chooses to ignore the multiple times when the senior Birlings attempt to state their higher status and use it to control the play.
- Word count: 772
One of the main roles of the Inspector Goole is that he adds suspension to the play. Priestly has added suspense to the play because he makes the inspector arrive mysteriously and another coincidence is this is just after Mr. Birling's speech on morality and social responsibility "That a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own-and-"then halfway through speaking this speech the inspector arrives. This could be because the inspector had a socialist view and wanted to challenge Mr.
- Word count: 680
There are two ways about him; one being that he is a man who's purpose is too deliver a clever and massive hoax to the family as Gerald rightly points out 'quote'. By this we know that the inspector wasn't being honest and when Gerald brings it too light the whole thing seems to one sick set up to make the family feel bad however after the infirmary calls to prove the death of Eva Smith the hoax idea doesn't fall into place and that bring the other idea about the inspector being supernatural.
- Word count: 572
Mrs Birling does not know the habits of her own son even though they live under the same roof. Another issue with the drink is when Eric asks his father if he is allowed one and Birling shouts no yet the Inspector says Eric needs this drink to see him through. Eric's own father is unable to see Eric's physical needs. Eric is from a younger generation who let their hair down once in a while and have a few drinks. They can often end up getting drunk which can result in them becoming pretty nasty and maybe even ending up having a s****l encounter with a girl.
- Word count: 862
It is not until later that we discover this must be because of his having stolen some money. After the exposition follows the entrances. In an Inspector Calls, all the main characters (excluding the Inspector) are already on stage when the curtain lifts. However, the positioning of the characters, the stage layout, lighting and the costumes can still present a lot about their characters. Priestley describes the set in Act One as "the dining-room of a large suburban house". Such a set gives the sense of a rich, prosperous businessman and provides an idea of the period (1912).
- Word count: 952
you're father gets from him.' Priestly expresses this as Birling tries to impress Gerald with a port. Gerald Croft is Old money. This shows that the higher the class you are the more respect you will get. We can also see that new money respect Old Money and that Old money look down on new Money. Priestley also expresses that Working class have a lot of respect for Old money as Edna 'Yes Ma'am' Mrs Birling is of a higher social status than Edna, therefore Edna addresses Mrs Birling as ma'am. We can also see that Mr Birling, who is new money, has a lot of respect for Old money as he addresses Gerald's Father as 'Sir Croft'.
- Word count: 932
Priestley was a socialist, and was very concerned about social inequality in Britain. In the aftermath of the Second World War, class distinctions had been considerably reduced and the capitalist social hierarchy of 1912 had been replaced with a socialist one, where everyone was equal and were identically responsible for each other. Priestley did not want the British public to resort back to capitalism, and wrote 'An Inspector Calls' to demonstrate how better off they were with a more socialist society. In 'An Inspector Calls', Priestley uses Arthur Birling as a representative of the typical 'New Rich' man in a capitalist society.
- Word count: 672
when Mr Birling speaks of how he played golf with the chief constable in a threatening manner the inspector simply replies "I don't play golf". The Inspector believes in equality hence speaks to Mrs Birling as he would anyone else . Contradictory to this Mrs Birling due to the social hierarchy thinks he ought to pay her some respect despite her actions ,which she believes are justified .An example of this is when they find the inspector to be a hoax she makes a comment "a real inspector wouldn't talk to us like that".
- Word count: 951
The way they are dressed also shows the class of the Birlings, They're not wearing diner jackets but wing collars and Sheila and Sybil are wearing smart, comfortable dresses. This implies that the Birlings are trying to show their money and how classy they are. Gerald is attractive, self confident and classy he has this by inheriting his money of his family whereas the Birlings have made their money by working hard. Eric is half shy, half assertive and well protected by his family, he wants to be like Gerald.
- Word count: 968
Although you could argue that's what a good, professional inspector should be able to do. The characters themselves soon come to realise the inspectors fearsome powers from when Sheila says 'Don't you see, he knows everything' and later Mrs Birling is also left in awe when she realises just how much information the inspector has managed to extract from her. Finally we can see how the inspector may be God from how he judges from a moral standpoint rather than from the rules of the land.
- Word count: 932