English Literature: An Inspector Calls - The Writer's Techniques

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What is an inspector calls?
A play
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Because all the action takes place in the Birlings' dining room, what can happen?
The whole play can be staged using one set.
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What is wrong with a room which is described as 'claustrophobic'?
It makes you feel trapped in a small space.
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How does Priestley's design make the atmosphere of the play seem?
more claustrophobic and intense - like a kettle, just about to boil
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What does the set of the stage emphasises?
The Birlings' private and self-centred lifestyle and highlights the unwelcome arrival of the Inspector who brings bad news from outside.
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What should a good production of the play show?
The family falling apart as their secrets are revealed.
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Talk about why the actor Sheila should follow the stage direction "half serious half playful" to show the family are falling apart as their secrets are revealed?
To make it clear that although she's joking with Gerald, she's not convinced he's telling her the truth about last summer.
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Talk about why the actor Eric needs to balance his performance as a troubled, regular drinker to show the family are falling apart as their secrets are revealed?
So that he doesn't seem too sober, but doesn't seem too drunk. This unsettles the audience because it's clear that something's not right.
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What does the fact the play takes place in one room suggest about the characters?
That they have closed themselves off from the world, with their closed-minded behaviour.
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Talk about the change in lighting from "pink and intimate" to "brighter and harder"
Pink and intimate at the start as if the Birlings are looking through 'rose-tinted glasses' but becomes brighter and harder when the Inspector arrives - as if a spotlight is turned on their cosy world.
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How should the Birlings and Gerald be represented as wealthy?
From the clothes and furniture as it is part of the image they present to society.
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How should Inspector Goole look?
Relatively plain.
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Talk about Stephen Daldry's production's set and what it suggests.
House set on stilts,high above street.Height showed separation from rest of town but stilts made house seem unsteady-suggesting their high status could easily collapse.cuz play wasn't set in 1 room,audience is reminded 2 think about world outside
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At the beginning of Act two, what happens rather than what the audience excepts (the story to move on to Gerald's confession) why does Priestley do this?
Priestley delays the action by shifting the audience's attention to Sybil and Sheila, insisting that they should be allowed to hear what he says. This builds tension and increases the audience's curiosity.
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Explain how Priestley increases the tension by having the Inspector release information bit by bit.
He shows the photo(s) to one person at a time and positions himself so the others can't see - the characters, like the audience, are kept on their toes.
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The family all start seated, but how do they end? Explain.
Standing, shouting, drinking and crying - its a dramatic but slow change in how the stage looks and sounds.
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Give an example of a character exiting to signal that she's escaping from someone or something.
Sheila when she runs offstage when she realises the reason Eva was sacked. She wants to leave the intense atmosphere - but she's also running away from telling her story.
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Why does the Inspector use exits? Give an example.
To draw information out of other characters - e.g. he leaves Sheila and Gerald alone to discuss Daisy Renton
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Why does the front door bang every time someone leaves or enters the house?
So the characters on stage and the audience hear it and wonder who's coming and going.
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Why does Priestley freeze the action between acts?
To create tension.
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Why does Priestley make the Birlings' say words such as "chaps" and "jingo"?
To help show his social class. It also suggests the characters feel comfortable with each other - they're using language of their social group.
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Why was Sybil shocked when Sheila said "squiffy"?
Because some slang words were popular with the younger generation but weren't used by their more old fashioned parents.
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Why does Birling describe being fooled as "an elaborate sell" when he realises the Inspector's visit was a hoax?
Because he sees the world as a businessman views his company and therefore uses business language. The fact his language links with sales with tricks suggest he might not be an honest businessman either.
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What does the Inspector speaking his mind and not messing about (Give an example of this) contrast with?
E.g. when he says Eva/Daisy was burnt "inside out" by disinfectant. He contrasts with Birling's long waffly speech at the beginning of act one.
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What sort of language does the Inspector use?
Plain and direct - he only says what he needs to - there can't be any confusion.
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Explain when the Inspector uses silence.
He has a "disconcerting habit" of staring for a while at a person before he speaks to them.
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What do the older Birlings find rude about the inspector?
His manner and language - he is "rude" and "impertinent"
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What sort of language does Sheila use at the beginning? Give an example.
Simple and Childish language e.g. she says "I'm sorry daddy" when she's admiring her ring instead of listening to her father.
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What sort of language does Sheila use at the end? Like who? Give an example.
Confident and assertive. She uses simple, plain and sometimes blunt English, just like the Inspector - e.e. "we drove that girl to commit suicide"
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Why does Priestley make Sheila's voice sound full of emotion?
To make her language sound honest and from the heart.
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Who does Sheila disagree with? Explain.
Her parents - she tells them they're wrong to think the Inspector was a "joke" and points out that they "began to learn something" before they decided it was a hoax.
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Who does Priestley give similar power (omniscience) to - like the Inspector?
The audience - they play is set in 1912, but the play was performed in 1945. The audience know a lot of what Birling dismisses in his speech actually happened.
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What is it called when the audience knows more than the characters?
Dramatic Irony.
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Why does Priestley use dramatic irony?
To make Birling look short-sighted.
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Which act is there more irony in?
Act one.
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Talk about the Irony is Act One.
Birling talks about getting a knighthood unless there's a "scandal". He jokes "complacently" (as if nothing will happen) but the play's title reveals that something will happen - an inspector will call.
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What is an euphemism?
A way of avoiding saying something unpleasant by using other, often more vague words.
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Does the Inspector use euphemisms?
No - his language is more direct.
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What do the Euphemisms about Daisy suggests? "went on the streets" where she led "another kind of life" with the "women of time"
She became a prostitute.
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To Mrs Birling, Eva/Daisy is a "girl of that sort". What does this euphemism mean?
She means a lower-class girl
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To Mrs Birling, Eva/Daisy is in a particular "condition". What does this euphemism mean?
Pregnant
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What is part of the Inspector's message? How does this contrast to euphemisms?
Part of his message is about accepting the truth - using euphemisms does the opposite, it covers things up
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What creates imagery?
Language - that creates a strong image.
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Why does the Inspector use graphic imagery?
To shock- the words "Burnt her inside out" creates an image that distresses Sheila and the image.
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The Inspectors final speech uses imagery from where?
The Bible
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"We are members of one body" how is this linked to The Bible?
It's an idea found in the Bible and the Inspector uses similar phrasing to suggest we have a 'sacred' duty to care for one another.
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"fire and blood and anguish" how is this linked to The Bible?
It sounds like the end of the world described in the Book of Revelation, where "fire mingled with blood" rains down - people are punished for their sins
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Because all the action takes place in the Birlings' dining room, what can happen?

Back

The whole play can be staged using one set.

Card 3

Front

What is wrong with a room which is described as 'claustrophobic'?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

How does Priestley's design make the atmosphere of the play seem?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What does the set of the stage emphasises?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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