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An Inspector Calls

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on 15 April 2014

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Transcript of An Inspector Calls

Remind yourself of the
ending of the play
‘The telephone rings sharply.........’

‘......the curtain falls’
How do you
to this as an
ending to An Inspector Calls
and how does
Priestley make you respond as you do by the
ways he writes
? (30 marks)
In the
opening stage directions
, Priestley refers to Eric as
‘not quite at ease, half shy,
half assertive’
How does Priestley
these and other
ideas about Eric
in An Inspector Calls?
(30 marks)
Image by Tom Mooring
An Inspector Calls
In Act 2 of An Inspector Calls, Sheila says to her mother, Mrs Birling,
“But we really must stop these silly pretences”
How does Priestley show, in his
presentation of Mrs Birling
, that she often
pretends to be something she is not
? (30 marks)
Warning to the audience
Inspector arrived just after Birling says 'a man has to mind his own business'. Then, the phone rings just after Birling laughs at 'the famous younger generation who know it all'.
Eric and Sheila are right and have learnt.
Birling, Sybil and Gerald are wrong and have not learnt the inspectors lesson.
What would have happened if they had all accepted their guilt?
Who (or what) was the inspector?
A ghost (Goole sounds like ghoul)?
Could he represent the spirit of a religious or moral figure?
The Way He Writes
'sharply' - intrusive, dangerous.
'complete silence' - no one has anything to say or any suggestions as to who it could be.
'What? - here -' - he is shocked.
'panic-stricken fashion' - worried, shocked, alarmed, panicked.
'That was the police' - short sentence - panic, shock.
'-' hyphens - panic, chaos, shock. He does not know what to do.
'As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls' - leaves the reader and the characters confused, and shocked.
'suddenly guffaws' but doesn't know why he is laughing - hints that something is not right.
'Unless Eric's been up to something' - Eric acts suspiciously and seriously when Gerald says this. He also answers 'defiantly'.
Irresponsible - 'I don't even remember'.
Unloved - 'You don't understand anything. You never did.'
Sensitive - 'My God - I'm not likely to forget'.
Eric's laugh interrupts the polite conversation at the beginning of the play.
His behaviour disrupts the polite middle-class illusion of respectability.
Eric is making it obvious that these are all false pretences.
Although he is the obvious villain of the play, he accepts responsibility - 'the fact remains that I did what I did', whilst he criticises his parents - 'you lot may be letting yourselves out nicely'.
Won't accept Eric's problem, even after Sheila tells her.
Tells Sheila off for using slang.
Tells Birling off for saying that the food was good.
Supports charity but used her influence to have Eva's case refused.
She would try to hide what happened to avoid a public scandal.
At the end, she acts as if nothing has happened.
Pretends not to know what the inspector is taking about. Suggests that she is hiding a lot more.
Sheila says that Mrs Birling is building a wall between them and the girl - she is trying to hide the truth.
do you think
social class
is in An Inspector Calls and how does Priestley
present ideas about social class
? (30 marks)
Social Class
Important part of the 1912 and 1945 society.
Birling - Thinks that social class is all that matters - there will be a 'public scandal'. He thinks he's more important - Lord Mayor, Alderman, magistrate.
Mrs Birling - She claimed that she did not recognise Eva from the photo, suggesting she thinks that Eva had no identity.
The Birlings like the class system as it works for them. They overlook problems they don't like rather than deal with them, for example, the death of Eva Smith and alcoholism.
Sheila and Eric change at the end of the play, suggesting that class isn't all that matters. It doesn't matter to them that Eva was of a lower class, they accept what they did.
Priestley's Ideas
People of higher classes would expect people of lower classes to have low morals. However, Priestley shows that this isn't true as Eva refused to take stolen money even though she was desperate. (In a way, she was more moral than Eric.)
Edna is the only working class member on stage. She doesn't have many lines, but she introduces the inspector.
The inspector is outside of the class system and he his opinions reflect Priestley's views - everyone is 'intertwined' and 'members of one body'. We are all responsible for each other.
He present the working class to be more honourable than the middle and upper classes.
Eva was a victim of the class system. Although her story is very unique, the suffering was quite common. Eva Smith could have been anyone.
What do you think is the
importance of Inspector Goole
and how does Priestley
present him
? (30 marks)
Priestley's views are reflected in the inspectors opinions.
The Inspector
Make the Birlings (and society) realise that we are members of one body, responsible from each other and that our lives are all intertwined.
Convey Priestley's ideas and message.
Interrupts Birling's speech.
Ghost delivering a spooky prophecy?
Driving force of the play.
Gets everyone to reveal and admit their secrets.
How does Priestley present him?
Contrast between his speech and Birling's speech.
Humour - 'I don't play golf' - humanises somewhat.
Is he 'real'?
Remind yourself of the
stage directions
below from the start of Act 1.
In the
rest of the play
, how does Priestley
present and develop
some of the
ideas shown here
? (30 marks)
'substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike' - public appearance is more important. Suggests that the family is not as caring and loving as it should be, implying that there are secrets (quote from further on).
'The lighting should be pink and intimate until the INSPECTOR arrives, and then is should be brighter and harder' - the inspectors authority is greater than the Birlings'.
Mrs Birling is 'a rather cold woman' - she does not accept responsibility for the death of Eva Smith and her grandchild.
Mr Birling is a 'rather portentous man' - He has authority but not as significantly as the thinks (the inspector has more power).
Sheila is 'very pleased with life' - this idea is developed as she learns the inspector's lesson and accepts responsibility by the end of the play - she is no longer the same person she was at the beginning of the play.
Eric is 'not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive' - shows that something is not right. Eric's laugh interrupts the polite conversation at the beginning of the play. His behaviour disrupts the polite middle-class illusion of respectability.
Arthur Birling says,
‘If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn’t it?’
How does Priestley present
ideas about responsibility
in An Inspector Calls? (30 marks)
Mr Birling clearly does not think we are responsible for other people - a man has to [...] look after himself'. This is interrupted by the inspector foreshadowing the inspectors speech about responsibility.
Mrs Birling shares similar views to Mr Birling - 'I've done done nothing wrong - and you know it' - she refuses to accept her responsibility.
Sheila says 'it doesn't make any real difference' if the inspector was real, and Eric agrees that 'Sheila's right'. This shows that the younger generation has learned about responsibility and that they are partly responsible for Eva Smith's death.
The inspector's speech reflects Priestley's views; 'all intertwined with our lives', 'members on one body', 'we are responsible for each other', 'fire and blood and anguish'.
How do you
respond to Gerald
in An Inspector Calls? How does Priestley make you respond as you do
by the ways he writes
? (30 marks)
Gets on well with Birling - it seems that Birling would prefer him as a son.
He's been lying - 'I wasn't telling you a complete lie' - suggest the lies in the middle and upper classes.
He focuses on how to protect their reputation along with Mr Birling - he leads them to realise that inspector and the suicide were not real.
He's a younger version of Birling - he agrees with him on politics, supports Birling sacking Eva Smith ('You couldn't have done anything else', and he's business minded and committed like Birling. Him and Birling are the two who are determined to find outer whether the inspector or girl were real at the end.
He's the Birlings' social superior.
He doesn't learn the inspector's lesson - he doesn't feel sorry for his actions. This is shown through his language - he is the first to use the word 'hoax' and is very keen to prove that the inspector was a fake.
His marriage to Sheila could allow 'Birling and Company' and 'Crofts Limited' to merge in the future as he will probably take it over when his father retires. The two companies are 'friendly rivals'.
An Inspector Calls has been called
‘a play of contrasts’
. Write about how Priestley presents some of the contrasts in the play. (30 marks)
Contrast between the working and middle/upper classes.
Contrast between the Inspector's and Mr Birling's views (and speeches).
Contrast between Sheila and Eva.
Contrast between the older and younger generations.
Contrast between Gerald and Eric.
Contrast between Priestley's (the inspector's) views and society's (the Birlings') views and opinions.
Contrast between the cheerful moods at the beginning and darker moods at the end.
Irony in Mr Birling's speech (the Titanic).
Contrast between the lighting at the beginning and lighting after the inspector arrives.
How does Priestley present the
change in Sheila
during the course of the play An Inspector Calls? How do you think this change
reflects some of Priestley’s ideas
? (30 marks)
Sheila is 'very pleased with life' - she goes along with the family's pretences - she is blind to what is going on, but at the end, she isn't self-centred and regrets what she did (feels sorry for Eva Smith).
She accepts her responsibilities and guilt, and wants to learn from what has happened, unlike the other characters (except Eric).
The inspector makes 'a great impression' on her - she soon takes on the role of the inspector (e.g. by asking questions).
She hands Gerald back the ring, saying 'You and I aren't the same people who sat down to dinner here'.
Priestley's Ideas
The younger generation can still change.
Society needs to learn the inspector's lesson (just like Sheila did).
She becomes more independent over the course of the play - she breaks away from her parents beliefs - she learns right from wrong.
Honest about her behaviour from the start.
How does Priestley show that
tension is at the heart of the Birling family
? (30 marks)
The Birling Family
Mr Birling prefers Gerald to Eric - see's Sheila's marriage as a business opportunity.
Secrets - such as Eric's secret and Gerald's secret.
The older generation does not understand the younger generation.
Different views brought out by the inspect and different views about the inspector.
Lighting after the inspector arrives.
Dialogue between characters such as Eric and Birling.
Priestley criticises the
selfishness of people like the Birlings
. What methods does he use to present this selfishness? (30 marks)
Birling fired Eva as she wanted higher wages.
Mrs Birling refused Eva's case because she thought she was 'undeserving' - she doesn't use her position in society correctly.
Sheila got Eva fired because she was jealous.
Eric stole money to sort out his own problem.
Lack of understanding for each other/Eva Smith/the working class.
Inspectors message - we are all responsible for each other.
Dramatic irony in Birling's speech to highlight their self-obsession.
Full transcript