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GCSE: J.B. Priestley

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John Boynton Priestley's biography

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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  1. How does Priestley show that tension is at the heart of the Birling family?

    The Briling?s underlying tensions and unspoken fragile moral foundations were represented in Stephen Daldry?s National Theatre production which had the Birling house balanced unsteadily on stilts. Although the Birlings are an upper-class family and lead a very ?substantial and heavily comfortable? life, they do not fit the usual stereotype of an upper-class family. Whilst it is usually the father that is at the head of the family, in the case of the Birlings, Mrs Birling takes the lead. This is shown right from the beginning of the play when Mr Birling asks Mrs Birling to thank the cook for their dinner.

    • Word count: 904
  2. In "An Inspector Calls" how is Sheila affected by her realization?

    gives the reader a lot of information of her immediate reactions which are vital as it shows what her character is like, which seems to be quite naive perhaps and sensitive as she seems to really care about Eva. The fact she ?runs out? was a very dramatic movement that suggests her as having a shocked and overwhelmed reaction, in contrast to Mr.

    • Word count: 434
  3. An Inspector Calls: In Act 1, How Does Priestly Create Our Initial Impression of Mr Birling and His Relationship with His Family?

    Priestley never makes it completely obvious that Mr Birling is a very proud man but he does hint at it quite a lot. Priestley shows Birling is selfish as he says that the community is ?nonsense? and that ?a man has to make his own way?. Finally, Mr Birling shows that he is an optimist when he says ?I say there isn't a chance of war". This may, however, be Priestley suggesting Birling is foolish at times, because we now know there was a war.

    • Word count: 661
  4. How the mood changes and what devices are used to create tension and suspense in 'An Inspector Calls'.

    At the start of act 1, Sheila and Gerald have known each other for about a year, and they are celebrating their engagement.? Gerald comes from a rich, powerful, well-respected family who are in a higher class than the Birlings. Throughout act 1 we don?t really learn anything about Gerald just that he is in a higher class than Sheila and that there was this one summer where he and Sheila didn?t see each other because Gerald was ?awfully busy at the works?, This might lead the audience to think that Gerald is quite a secretive lying character in some parts of the play but maybe pleasant and loving in others.

    • Word count: 964
  5. Discuss the role of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

    ?He speaks carefully, weightily and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking?, to any person, no matter how superior they are; the inspector seems to know how to make anyone feel uncomfortable and worried about the outcome of his visit. Before he?s even spoken, you get the sense he has already created a tense atmosphere within the family, which is then acted upon throughout the rest of the play. In the start of the play when he arrives, he lets the family know he is serious and means business; he starts to tear apart the family?s ignorance of their wrong doings.

    • Word count: 684
  6. Comparing Sheila and Sybil Birling

    These actions are dissimilar to Mrs Birling?s as Sybil would and has been looking after the house and also raising a family. This implies that Sheila disagrees with the way her mother lives and would like to have the same rights as men showing that she is a person who wants equality. This is also displaying that Sybil is a stereotypical women in the year of 1912 as she stays at home and raises the family.

    • Word count: 530
  7. What is the importance of Mr. Arthur Birling as a character in the play in the play An Inspector Calls?

    The mood is to be light, playful and happy. This is because to create a great contrast between the inspector arrives and after his arrival. 1. What effect do this evening?s events have on Birling family and their relationships? Their relationships became restrained and the celebration became a terrible nightmare and their lack of responsibility towards community. 1. Why does it ?not much matter? to Sheila whether the Inspector was a real policeman or not? She learns of her responsibilities to others less fortunate than herself and becoming more mature and sensitive.

    • Word count: 1955
  8. Write about the character of Mr Birling and his importance to the play.

    He enjoys talking a lot, making other people listen to him and telling the younger people in the play how to live their lives. For example, just before the Inspector arrives he speaks at length, in a very didactic manner, to Eric and Gerald, explaining how a man should put himself first and not worry about the community and society, as if we ?were bees in a hive? This shows us that he does not worry about the position of those less fortunate, or less wealthy than him, and he dismisses people who do think like this as ?cranks?.

    • Word count: 534
  9. Discuss the role of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

    From this we can start to deduce that the Inspector is not an ordinary police inspector. The youth in the play seem much more open to change, compared to the older generation that appear entrenched in Edwardian values, and have no wish to change. This is reflected in the way in which the characters respond to the Inspector. Mrs Birling fails to accept responsibility for her actions or realises the damage she caused to Eva Smith. Her flippant tone when answering questions conveys this, for example she states ?But I accept no blame for this at all?, referring to the death of Eva Smith.

    • Word count: 1312
  10. How does Priestly present the change in Sheila? How does this reflect some of Priestly's ideas?

    We see this through her reaction to Gerald when he presents her with the engagement ring "is it the one I wanted." and through the way that she obsesses over the ring taking no interest in what it represents. We also see that Sheila is a girl eager to conform to her parent?s expectations, marrying at a, young age and to the man that Mr Birling hopes will allow his business to prosper.

    • Word count: 707
  11. The first impressions we get of Mr Birling is that hes a very pompous and vain man

    presented very differently by Priestley, this is shown on the first page were it sets the scene, the way that they are both presented is reflected in the way they react to the inspector. Before the inspector arrives Birling is portrayed as a very narrow minded, self-centred and vain man ?and I say there isn?t a chance of war? and ?the titanic absolutely unsinkable? The fact he makes these confident predictions helps the audience realize how idiotic and vain he is to make predictions that the audience knows is false, this is called dramatic irony Priestley uses the technique to help us realize how idiotic the upper class and in this case Birling is.

    • Word count: 626
  12. How Does Priestly Dramatically Present His Concerns In Act 1 And Act 3 Of An Inspector Calls?

    He hoped the current youth could grow up and learn from the mistakes their predecessors had made before them. ?An Inspector Calls? seems to be primarily a detective drama however it draws influence from ?Greek Tragedy?, ?Medieval Morality Plays? and especially ?Social Dramas?. Priestly bases the play on moral lesson, he attempts to reach out to the audience and educate them to heed the teachings he promotes within the text. The character of inspector Goole is especially modeled on ?Medieval Morality?. He symbolises justice, morality and conscience. Priestly engages the audience through the use of dramatic irony. After living in a war torn Britain Priestly conveys his anxiety through the character Mr.

    • Word count: 1353
  13. Give advice to the actor playing Mrs Birling

    Character Bonds: The actor playing Mrs Birling would need to show the distancing between herself and each individual character. The bond between Mr and Mrs Birling will be stronger than Mrs Birling with anyone else as they are from the same generation and Mr Birling does all that he can to stay in Mrs Birling's good books (this could be due to the fact of social standings or just to do with the fact that she is his wife). The bonds between herself and her children will be mainly formal with them only speaking about appearances and social activities.

    • Word count: 910
  14. In An Inspector Calls how does J.B. Priestley use dramatic devices to convey his concerns and ideas to the members of the audience, as well as interest and involve them in the play?

    Suffragettes originate from the word suffrage which means not having the right to vote. Life in the Edwardian Era was a complete contrast between the rich and the poor. The poor had to work for life-threatening hours with minimum wage which was not even enough for a living. They can not even afford to feed their families; the rich had ?port? and take it all for granted. The rich women did not have jobs whereas the poor women had to beg on streets and were seen as gutters.

    • Word count: 2968

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