English Literature - An Inspector Calls - Rate my essay

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ColeNate
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I have recently written an answer to the question 'How does Priestley show that tension is at the heart of the Birling family? (30 marks)' after watching a series of mrbruff English revision videos. I would really appreciate it if somebody could give me some guidance on how to improve.

ANSWER:

Priestley uses numerous methods to show that tension is a prevalent feature of the Birling family.

Priestley uses the stage directions at the beginning of the play to demonstrate tension. The Birling household appears to lack homeliness and family love as the home is described as ‘not cosy’ and the furniture ‘heavily comfortable’. The home not being cosy suggests that there is a barrier between family members and that they are not as close as a family perhaps should be. ‘Heavily’ comfortable implies that sacrifices have been made to provide such a level of comfort, hinting at further tension within the family. Priestley does this to symbolise the parents’ obsession with their vain practices, showing that their interests are more so with their social status than raising and loving their children. The Birling household also lacks the typical warm, kind-hearted mother as Sybil is describes as ‘cold’ and often speaks to her children ‘sharply’ in the play. ‘Sharply’ is indicative of an authoritative, hard parenting style in which very little freedom is given to the children. The audience, hearing Sybil speak in such a controlling manner, would begin to understand why Eric later in the play is a drunk. Priestley does this to display how control and force is unsustainable and only leads to tension and the awful, thoughtless actions taken under tension.

Priestley also uses conflict between the younger and older generation’s moral ideologies. Striking rifts between the two generations appear during The Inspector’s visit, with Sheila understanding that labourers are ‘people’ whereas Arthur is intent on coming down ‘hard’ on these people instead. With such contrasting ideas, it is inevitable that tension grows; the younger generation taking a rebellious stance of ‘shouting’ at their parents, ‘protesting’ against each other to convey their beliefs. The ways in which the two generations compare and discuss their attitudes is wild and aggressive, indicating that the two sides are so convinced and absorbed in their ideas that listening is not an option. Priestley does this to demonstrate the importance of understanding one another; the key cause of this argument is the lack of understanding – they are all far too obnoxious to discuss in a civil manner. Alternatively, Priestley could be encouraging the oppressed to protest as it is the only way of resolving tension and achieving equilibrium.

Priestley also uses the characters’ withheld secrets to demonstrate tension. Each character has their own issue and has tried to hide it, such as Eric who decides that Arthur is ‘not the kind of father a chap goes to when he’s in trouble’. It appears that the family itself is artificial – despite being a ‘father’, Birling is no role model or true man. At the celebration, the family being ‘pleased with themselves’ is merely a facade with the ‘pink light’ acting as a bubble of fantasy, a barrier restricting the truth. Upon The Inspector’s arrival, tension leaks out of the bubble and the pink light becomes ‘brighter’, suggesting that the facade itself has encountered stress and is under attack, with each family member struggling to defend their corner of responsibility. The audience would become well aware of the idea that the family is fraudulent and materialistic through this desperation and thrashing of family relationships. Priestley ensures that each character encounters conflict to demonstrate how tension thrives in a world of intrigue and secrecy, to promote openness instead.

In conclusion, Priestley harnesses the element of tension in the play to highlight the consequences of secrecy and misunderstanding. He induces the idea that the Birlings are only fuelled by greed and selfishness, which causes the ultimate downfall and paralysing tension within the family.
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Sulfur
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An absolutely amazing essay with a great and wide range of vocabulary. Every point is explained and then is linked back to the question with the effect of the reader and your opinion of the quotes. The essay is simple, which means that it can be easily read and remembered - it's different which makes it unique.

I believe that this essay would be an easy 27-30 marks if an examiner read it. Personally, I believe that it would score full marks.


My only criticism would be the length of the introduction, possibly another line or so would've opened the essay up even more, but to be honest it appears fine the way it is.
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ColeNate
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Thank you very much! It looks like Mrbruff is pretty damn awesome then.
I wasn't expecting that high a mark though because I felt that the 'write a lot about a little' criteria wasn't really done very well when I only wrote about a sentence on the 'heavily' comfortable quotation.
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HarjKS
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That was really good, I think 'Sulfur' pretty much summed up everything I wanted to say.

Well done!
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Sulfur
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(Original post by ColeNate)
Thank you very much! It looks like Mrbruff is pretty damn awesome then.
I wasn't expecting that high a mark though because I felt that the 'write a lot about a little' criteria wasn't really done very well when I only wrote about a sentence on the 'heavily' comfortable quotation.
I'm sure that you're doing the IGCSE Edexcel exam paper here, and I did this exam board. You'd honestly be surprised on what you actually have to do to get the marks. The exemplars on the website are great examples of this.

You made a point in the beginning of your first paragraph (lack of homeliness and family love), then you gave evidence (heavily comfortable) and explained it in one sentence. But then you summarised it again (hit the perceptive point on the mark scheme) with the "Priestly does this to symbolise..." All of this fulfils the criteria - Point Evidence Explanation. That's what I did in the exam and I'd advise everyone to follow, like I said, you'd be surprised on what you actually have to do get the marks.
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ColeNate
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Report Thread starter 7 years ago
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(Original post by Sulfur)
I'm sure that you're doing the IGCSE Edexcel exam paper here, and I did this exam board. You'd honestly be surprised on what you actually have to do to get the marks. The exemplars on the website are great examples of this.

You made a point in the beginning of your first paragraph (lack of homeliness and family love), then you gave evidence (heavily comfortable) and explained it in one sentence. But then you summarised it again (hit the perceptive point on the mark scheme) with the "Priestly does this to symbolise..." All of this fulfils the criteria - Point Evidence Explanation. That's what I did in the exam and I'd advise everyone to follow, like I said, you'd be surprised on what you actually have to do get the marks.
I'm doing the AQA GCSE English Lit - I probably should have mentioned that in my original post. Anyhow, I think they're pretty similar. Thanks for your help and for your time!
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