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How does Priestley present some of the contrasts in the play? (30 marks)
Priestley presents a range of contrasts in the play to show the division between the upper and the lower class.
Initially, J.B Priestley presents one of the most prominent theme in the play between the two generations present in the Birling home. The younger generation (Sheila and Eric) are accepting their part in Eva Smith’s death. This is shown through the quotation ‘‘I know I’m to blame – and I’m desperately sorry.’’ This advocates that Sheila understands her contribution to Eva’s death. The word ‘sorry’ indicates Sheila’s regretfulness of her actions toward Eva and the impacts they had.
However, the older (seemingly more intelligent) generation of Mrs and Mr Birling deny the fact that they contributed to Eva’s death. ‘‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’’ Moreover, Mrs Birling criticizes others not knowing the part she played. ‘‘Eric, I’m ashamed of you.’’ The word ‘you’ emphasis that Sybil Birling desires to use others for her blame. Priestley includes this particular difference to make the audience see that it is not always the older, more mature people make the right decisions in life.
Another contrast that is shown in ‘An Inspector Calls’ is between Inspector Goole and Mr Birling. These are two very opposite characters which Priestley uses to educate the audience. The theme of contrast between these two characters is first signified, in act one, when Mr Birling threatens the Inspector proclaiming the he plays golf with the ‘Chief Constable, Colonel Roberts.’ The Inspector ‘dryly’ responds ‘‘I don’t play golf.’’ The word ‘dryly’ propounds that Inspector Goole is uninterested in what Mr Birling has to declare.
In addition to this, Mr Birling states ‘‘Soon they will want the Earth’’ with Inspector Goole responding ‘‘It is better to ask for the Earth than take it.’’ The words ‘ask’ and ‘take’ are also demonstrating theme of contrast. The Inspector is asserting that Mr Birling just takes everything without asking anyone. Furthermore, the Inspector uses short and precise sentences to get his message across.