Course-Work For Inspector Call

This is my Inspector Call's essay which I did for English Literature and got an A.

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  • Created on: 17-12-11 21:05
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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
J.B Priestley was born on 13th September 1894 in Bradford, Yorkshire. He left school at the
age of sixteen to fulfil his ambition of becoming a writer rather than pursuing his education
towards a university scholarship. During, the years 1912, two years before World War 1
broke out, he began writing `An Inspector Calls'. He believed he was a `social philosopher at
least in my own estimation'. This is suggestive of his ambition and his belief in his potential.
`Social philosopher' implies he had his own view regarding the way society should
assemble. He portrays views of a socialist in `An Inspector Calls' through Inspector Goole.
He was a socialist living in a capitalist time.
In `An Inspector Calls', we are also shown how social class affects the way each character
thinks and how it divides the Birling family. During Act 1 in `An Inspector Calls', the play
begins with the Birling family holding a dinner party to celebrate the engagement of their
daughter, Sheila Birling to Mr Birling's business rival's son, Gerald Croft. Mr Birling claims
that the party `is one of the happiest nights of his life. However, this isn't in fact regarding
Sheila's engagement but the merging of his company with Crofts Limited owned by his
future son-in-law's father. We are already shown the importance of having wealth through
Mr Birling. He is aware of Gerald's social superiority and feels it is an opportunity to show
off his social status with his port when he says, 'it's exactly the same port as your father'.
This shows his selfish nature to Gerald and the audience. Here, J.B Priestley shows how
people in the 1900's were defined by their social class.
The time the play was set, social mobility between classes was least possible. This was
shown by the treatment by the Birling family towards Eva Smith. Priestley wrote the play
in 1945 but he seemed to deliberately set the play in 1912 when change was about. He set
the play in 1912 despite knowing that firm class boundaries were in place ensuring there
would be no change in the future. In `An Inspector Calls', Priestley encourages people to
make the most of the broken class divisions given by the ending of the war.
Given social class, Mr Birling regards himself highly as shown to the audience by the speech
he gives to Eric and Gerald. In this speech, Mr Birling is optimistic about the future but
states, that the 'Titanic is unsinkable' and 'there is no chance of war' which is only proven
wrong in the following years as the war commences and the unsinkable Titanic sinks. This
shows that Mr Birling is a rather arrogant and ignorant character in the play. His
contradictory statements cause the audience to question his beliefs about his knowledge.
Furthermore, Priestley's use of irony causes the audience to question Mr Birling's words
and how much of it is to be believed further on in the play.
At the beginning of Act 1, Priestley uses lighting as a dramatic device to show the
significance of Inspector before and after his arrival. The stage directions indicate 'the
lighting should be pink and intimate until the Inspector arrives and then it should be
brighter and harder'. The lighting intensity changes according to the situation on stage. The
play starts with the Birling family seated in the dining where the lighting is set to 'pink and
intimate'. The word 'pink' reflective of the warm atmosphere and calm mood as the
audience would expect from an 'intimate' family evening. Furthermore, 'pink' implies that
the members of the Birling family share a love filled relationship. Also, the `pink' symbolises
Sheila and Gerald's affectionate relationship. Priestley intentionally uses the colour, `pink'
for the lighting rather than natural light as this makes the scene more obscure. This is
symbolic that the audience are looking at the scene through a rose window which gives the
audience a sense that everything isn't as it seems.
1
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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
However, this is confirmed when the Inspector arrives as the stage directions indicate the
lighting should be 'brighter and harder' which gives an impression of exposure. Here, the
audience can instantly sense that the Inspector will bring problems for the Birling family
with his arrival. 'Brighter' suggest that the Inspector will be the one to uncover unwanted
secrets unwillingly in the bright light.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
think. Otherwise, when change comes about, it would be much harder for people like Mr
Birling to accept the new concepts of women being either house-wives or bread winners.
Similarly, Mr Birling is protective of his daughter, Sheila, `There isn't a slightest reason why
my daughter should be dragged in this unpleasant business'.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited.' These words, `rather exited' suggest
the character of Sheila as a young woman who is naïve. The word, `pleased' suggests Sheila
enjoying the attention that is brought onto her by her engagement.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
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We are shown the impact of the Inspector on Sheila as she says, 'No he's giving us the rope
so that we'll hang ourselves.' She says this in response to Mr Birling's attitude to the
Inspector. Here, we can see that Sheila feels partially to be blamed in causing the death of
Eva Smith along with her family.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
this, we can infer the impact of the Inspector's interrogation or rather the doings of Eric on
Mrs Birling. The ellipses show her state of mind as she is left baffled in understanding
Eric's treatment of Eva Smith. Moreover, the use of the word 'ridiculous' suggest that she is
finding it to believe her son had any form of involvement.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
The impact of the Inspector's interrogation is shown on Mr Birling when he says, `There'll be
a public scandal.' His only concerns appear to retaining his social status and avoiding public
embarrassment by the leaking of the scandal.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
officer named Goole in the local police force. He realises that it may not have been the same
girl as they were all shown pictures separately and he finds from phoning the Infirmary
that there has been no suicide case in months. His eagerness to find out whether the
Inspector was fake was done to protect himself rather than to change himself.…read more

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How does J.B Priestley use language, structure and staging to illustrate the impact of the
inspector on the Birling family?
in a position where she tries to excuse herself from any accusation but end up blaming her
own son whch automatically shows the audience, the Inspector omniscience.…read more

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