J.B Political Science and Modern History. After his study

J.B Priestley  was born in 1894 in Bradford, England. Priestley was a playwright, script writer, English novelist and broadcaster. When the First World War broke out, Priestley joined the British army. He was wounded and gassed, therefore he was moved from active service to the Entertainers section of the British army. After the war, he studied English Literature at ‘Trinity College’ in Cambridge and achieved a degree there. He got a degree in Political Science and Modern History. After his study at ‘Trinity College’, he continued working as a freelance writer. He wrote his articles and essays, he then published the first of many novels. He wrote a famous play called ‘An Inspector Calls’. He wrote it during the Edwardian era. The central theme of the book/play is responsibility. Priestley is interested in our personal responsibility for our actions we take and our collective responsibility to society. The play explores the effect of class, age and sex on people’s view to responsibility, and shows how prejudice can stop people from acting responsibly.The play is set in the fictional town called Brumley. The setting of the play is in a dining room. The family is wealthy. An an evidence to show that they are wealthy is all the cutlery, glasses, jewelry, clothing and the discipline that the family has. To summarise the play: ‘An Inspector Calls’ is about a mysterious man who barges into the wealthy Birling family , who are having a dinner to celebrate the engagement of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft. The Inspector interrogates the family about their responsibility for the death of a girl named Eva Smith. Eva Smith died by swallowing strong disinfectant. When the Inspector questions the family, everyone from the Birling family shares something about Eva Smith and themselves making all of them nervous. The characters who were in the play/book were: Sheila, Mr. Birling, Edna (maid), Inspector Goole, Mrs. Birling, Eric and Gerald (Sheila’s fiance). Sheila is a childish, naive and a giddy lady who is the soon-to-become bride of Gerald. Mr. Birling is a very rich businessman. He is very over protective, materialistic and he has old fashion views about women. Mrs. Birling  as a character is very cold hearted and egoistic despite being a prominent member of local women’s charity. Eric, the son of Sybil and Arthur is in his twenties. He is the brother of Sheila. He is described as being not quite at ease, a little assertive and a little shy too. He needs more confidence. At some time during the play, he tries standing for his father but is mostly talked down. He spends most of his money on alcohol but everything else is provided for him. Such as food, home, a house..etc. by his parents. Lastly, Gerald. Gerald is described as an attractive man in his thirties. “He is often too manly to be dandy but the easy well-bred man-about-town”. Inspector Goole is a bit suspicious as a character. One can question if he is a ghost, or just a regular man. The word ‘Goole’ is just like the word ‘ghoul’ which means devil or ghost. When the Birling’s had dinner, Inspector Goole entered the dining room. Edna the maid had welcomed him in. The family didn’t hear a sound from him when he entered the room. They are a bit unsure who he truly is as they have never seen him before. Inspector Goole is in his fifties and always wears a full black suit. He has a routine of looking harsh at the person who he addresses before he speaks. He speaks very carefully and tries his best to find out who was responsible for the death of Eva.The connections between Priestley and ‘An Inspector Calls’ are that he lived through the period that he shows in ‘An Inspector Calls’. J.B fought in the war which in the play the inspector predicts: ‘Fire and blood and anguish’. Priestley saw the suffering of many at first hand and wanted to avoid any other wars. He was very interested in history and politics which he uses in his play presenting the views of capitalism and socialism. ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written by J.B. Priestley during 1945 (WW2) but was set in 1912 (before WW1) . This is because that era showed the opposite of what people were hoping for during the Second World War. Both of the wars did affect him in many ways. The audience and reader of this play may feel many emotions in this play/book. What is responsibility? Having a duty to deal with or a person.The characters in ‘An Inspector Calls’  were all responsible for their actions. This is because they all knew Eva. They did not reveal who was responsible for Eva Smith’s death at the end of the play/book. Priestley’s idea was to have the audience/reader figure out who was responsible. There was a big dramatic twist in the end of the play/book which makes the audience/reader curious. But who was responsible for Eva Smith’s death?  In my opinion i think that everyone from the Birling family was responsible for Eva’s death. Here is some evidence of what they all had to do with Eva. Eva Smith worked for Mr. Birling (Arthur). When Eva was working for Mr. Birling, she caused trouble wanting higher wages and getting more girls from the factory to go on strike. During the play Mr. Birling said “she had a lot to say far too much so she had to go” to the inspector. The main thing with his personality, is that he shows no guilt for Eva. Eric knew Eva but not as her real name. He knew her by the name Daisy Renton. Daisy was Eric’s mistress until he no longer wanted to continue. Little did he know, he made Eva/Daisy pregnant. After the affair, Eva lived next to the sea for about two months. Mrs. Birling was a member of ‘Brumley Women’s Charity Organization’. Mrs. Birling has kept quiet for a while because Daisy/Eva had reached for help from the Organization. Daisy/Eva had then called herself Mrs. Birling when she introduced herself to the charity. Mrs. Birling definitely didn’t like this and therefore she forced Daisy/Eva to leave. Later, inspector Goole continued to question Sybil and it turns out that Daisy/Eva was pregnant. Mrs. Birling did not know who made her pregnant at that time but Sheila knew. In the middle of the confession by Eric, emotions were shown. This is shown through the character of Mrs. Birling. She interrupts Eric by saying:  “I don’t think we want any further details of this disgusting affair”. “It’s disgusting to me”Sheila’s soon-to-become husband Gerald, met Eva at the music hall in Brumley where he saw her being pushed in a corner by Alderman Joe Meggarty who was half drunk. When Gerald saw Eva, he described her as being “very pretty, soft brown hair with big dark eyes”. Gerald rescued her.  Gerald says he took Eva out of the bar, and she told him her story but she used the name Daisy Renton. She never mentioned her real name. Sheila was shocked to hear this and Gerald responded “I want you to understand I didn’t install her there so that I could make love to her,” though Daisy Renton was his mistress. Sheila decided to give her engagement ring back. Sheila on the other hand, she went to Milwards, she thought Eva was making fun of her. Sheila was jealous of Eva’s good looks, threatened the workers that she wouldn’t return and made sure Eva got fired.Eric and Sheila are the most important characters as; Priestly introduces them to be coming a trouble-free family. They’re wealthy and a spoiled family who are problem-free, but later on we see that this changes. Eric and Sheila represent the younger generation who are open to change and equality. They accept to new improvements. This is shown through Act I. Both of them regret their actions and change their relationship with other people. Priestley’s words could suggest that they will become a different person with better behaviour, more responsibility and show more respect for others. They are apart of a very wealthy family and therefore i think they need to show more respect for those who can’t afford food, a home..etc. Priestley is trying to show that the upper classes (Birling family) are unaware of the life they’re living and it is unfair for those who belong to the lower class (Eva Smith). Eva Smith represents the lower class because she symbolises those who are treated badly in society. This links to the answer that she is poor, homeless, works in a factory, a single mother and works extra in a shop. Even though she plays two different characters, she represents the victim of Edwardian double standards. During the years leading up to the First World War there was a lot of workers wanting higher ages and better working conditions. As she wanted a higher wages, in a time of increased Suffragette militancy, Smith would have been seen as a troublemaker. J.B Priestley uses dramatic devices throughout ‘An Inspector Calls’. He uses dramatic irony. For instance, the audience and reader knows how wrong Mr. Birling is when he makes confident predictions about there is not coming another war and is excited about the sailing of Titanic: famously, the ship sank on her maiden voyage. This puts the audience and reader at an advantage over the characters and makes us more involved. There is tension as all the characters have played a part in Eva Smith’s death. The inspector uses tension and pace. He does this when dealing with a person at a time. Gradually, the story of Eva life is revealed. There is even more tone in ‘An Inspector Calls’. This is shown through the character Mr. Birling. Mr. Birling’s confidence is almost changed. First by excusing himself as he tries to confess his part of Eva Smith’s death. Another important dramatic device in the play/book is timing. The timings of the entrances and exits is very determined. For example: the inspector enters the dining room when Mr. Birling told Gerald about what a man has to do. “A man has look after himself and his own”. In the last act (Act III) there is a dramatic twist and a cliffhanger. Which leaves the audience/readers to find out themselves. To think about it, who was really responsible. In Act III, the Birling family discover that the inspector was not real and no girl died in the infirmary. This lifts some tension and the family suddenly receive a call that there is a real inspector coming in a few minutes to ask question on a young girl who committed suicide. J. B Priestley clearly showed and conveyed his message throughout ‘An Inspector Calls’. Priestley wrote this play as he noticed that there is a need for social change. He used the play to show his desire for social equality. “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for eachother. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish” J.B Priestley


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