CCEA - An Inspector Calls Essay - Mark + Advice please? Watch

WhatsUpMegx
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I'm really worried about English Lit. I was aiming for an A* but I'm starting to think that that's not realistic. I would really appreciate some advice on how to improve my writing. Thank you x

The question is "With reference to the ways that Priestley presents Mr Birling, show how far you agree that Mr Birling acts inconsiderately towards his children."

Priestley uses the character of Mr Birling to criticise Capitalism and the inconsiderate attitude of the upper-class, so perhaps unsurprisingly, Birling is often presented as being rather inconsiderate towards his children. This is evident throughout the play as Birling repeatedly undermines his children, dismissing their opinions, such as when he tells Eric to “just keep out of this” and tells Sheila to “be quiet”.

In the stage directions Priestley describes Birling as “portentous” and proves this to be accurate by Birling’s long monologues throughout act 1 as he dominates the conversation and the stage. As the family are celebrating Sheila and Gerald’s engagement, the audience would naturally assume that the attention would be on the couple, however Birling uses the party as a chance to discuss business and seemingly views the marriage as a business transaction rather than one of love. Priestley demonstrates this when Birling refers to the possible future when “Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together” and never mentions Sheila and Gerald being in love. This emphasises Birling’s mercenary mindset and lack of consideration for his own daughter’s happiness.

This is again highlighted when Birling seems to try to prevent the breakdown of the engagement after Gerald’s involvement with Daisy Renton is revealed, “you must understand that a lot of young men-“ Priestley implies that Birling is more concerned about losing a business connection than he is about the unfaithfulness of his daughter’s fiancé.

Furthermore, Birling often uses a patronising tone when speaking to Sheila, “Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along”. Priestly highlights that Birling fails to see his children as adults and continues to treat them inconsiderately, still calling Sheila a “child”.

Priestley presents the relationship between Birling and Eric as tense, and Birling seems to prefer Gerald and to view him as a son. This could be viewed as inconsiderate towards Eric as it could damage his self-esteem when his father so clearly favours and connects with someone else. As Birling seeks to ingratiate himself with Gerald, Eric is shown too be left out of the conversation, particularly as Birling joins Gerald in teasing Eric, emphasises by their “amused” tones while Eric’s discomfort will be obvious to the audience, highlighting Birling’s inconsideration for his son’s feelings. Moreover, as with Sheila, Birling is dismissive of Eric’s viewpoints, simply stating “You’ve a lot to learn yet”. Birling’s inconsiderate dismissal is highlighted by the short, staccato sentence and imperious tone. Additionally, Birling undermines Eric in front of the Inspector, “Just keep quiet, Eric”. He also speaks in a rather threatening tone when Eric challenges his opinions, “Unless you brighten your ideas”.

Furthermore, when Eric’s drinking problem is revealed, Birling reacts bitterly and fails to accept parental responsibility for his son’s issues. His anger would be obvious to the audience as he reacts “explosively” to Eric’s request for a drink. When the Inspector tells him tat Eric “needs a drink now just to see him through”, Priestley is suggesting that the Inspector is being more considerate towards Eric and understands him more than his father. Birling doesn’t display any consideration towards his son, instead speaking to him “harshly” and when he learns that Eric has stolen from his office, Priestley presents him as being more concerned with the possibility of “a public scandal” than the moral consequences of his son’s actions.

Moreover, Birling claims that Eric’s trouble is that he’s “been spoilt”, but ironically fails to recognise that it is he who spoiled him, again proving that he is an inconsiderate parent. Eric claims that Birling is “not the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble” and this seems to be true as Birling calls Eric a “damned fool” and tells him “you’re the one I blame for this”. Priestley is indeed portraying Birling as an unapproachable, inconsiderate parent as he is willing to place the entire blame on his son rather than accept any himself.
However, once could argue that Birling is indeed a considerate father. For instance, it’s possible that in pushing Sheila’s engagement with Gerald, Birling’s aim was to secure a stable future for his daughter by ensuring she maintains or improves her social position. Shows that Birling is proud of his daughter and the engagement, “I’m delighted about this engagement”. Additionally, he appears to try to protect Sheila from being questioned as he attempts to keep her out of the room, showing consideration for her feelings. Moreover, Birling exchanges a “frightened look” with his wife when they realise what Eric has done, demonstrating that he is concerned for and showing consideration for his son. This is again demonstrated when Birling attempts to bribe the inspector, “look, Inspector – I’d give thousands – yes, thousands” after Eric’s involvement has been revealed. It could be argued that Birling is showing consideration for his son by helping him avoid scandal.

Overall, I feel that Birling does not show much consideration for his children, but that his attitudes generally reflect the attitudes of his era, making him somewhat more sympathetic. However, Priestley did not write the character of Mr Birling intending him to be sympathetic to the audience, but rather to demonstrate the problems with the Capitalist mindset of the "hard-headed practical man of business".
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amexo
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This is so good! But to improve even more you could analyse specific words in even more detail
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WhatsUpMegx
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(Original post by amexo)
This is so good! But to improve even more you could analyse specific words in even more detail
Thank you!
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