An Inspector Calls Watch
How does Priestley present ideas about gender inequality?
Priestley presents the idea about gender equality through the idea that women have no choice. For example, when Gerald proposes to Sheila, she asks him 'is this the one you wanted me to have'. Superficially, this is an innocent question which clearly expresses that Sheila is surprised and overwhelmed by the proposal. Alternatively, the usage of the two pronouns second person pronoun 'you' referring to Gerald and the first person pronoun 'me' polarises the two and creates a metaphorical distance which may be reminiscent of that between women and men. The syntax of 'you' preceding 'me' suggests that Gerald comes before and is superior to Sheila and also emphasises on how this was Gerald's decision. This quotation suggests that it was not Sheila's choice of her own engagement ring but Gerald which puts emphasis on how in the Edwardian era women could not make decisions because even before marriage, Gerald is deciding for Sheila. The idea of men deciding for women highlights the little power women had in society and presents the idea that women have no choice.
This links to the idea of a helpless woman in a society where men were subservient to men. Priestley's protagonist Eva is a woman and although he refers to her male counterparts 'John Smiths' in his apocalyptic speech, his primary focus is the actions of the Birling family and Gerald and the effects on Eva. Through presenting the victim as a woman, Priestley presents society has been geared towards men. The idea of this working class woman being literally voiceless without having any lines in the play requires a man, Inspector Goole, to speak for her and narrate socialist views to improve society which reinforces the idea of the helpless woman. There are two notable points in which Eva receives help: on the first occasion, it is from Gerald and the second occasion it is from Eric. In both cases, Eva is sexually exploited by the men like the other 'hard eyed doughfaced' prostitutes presenting her as desperate and vulnerable. This idea of a voiceless women presents the idea of gender equality.
Eva is often contrasted with Sheila due to the latter being of a higher class. She is a dynamic character who unlike the older generation, recognise they are 'responsible' for the death of Eva. Sheila matures throughout the play from being 'pleased with life' and using colloquialisms such as 'mummy' showing her childish nature to defying her father which may have shocked some of the post-war 1946 audience through her sarcastic comments such as 'so now everything is back to normal'. Priestley may have developed the character of Sheila to suggest the 'impressionable' younger generation are a beacon of hope for the growth of socialism but also for the empowerment of woman. Sheila's refusal to leave the room when her father asks her to is important because it presents a new age of a woman - a type that can make their own decisions and are not controlled by a Patriarch, This is something women - who had just been provided with the right to vote and were taking on jobs which were once only done by men - could relate to because it presented an independent woman. Eva herself was an independent woman working jobs as she had no parents which could also support this idea. Sheila handing Gerald back the ring is effective because it presents a different Sheila who is more thoughtful and not the one who allowed Gerald to make decisions for her. Thus, Priestley may be presenting changing ideas about gender roles that could reduce gender equality. The idea of an independent woman is also reminiscent of the suffragette women as woman call for more freedom.
Priestley also presents ideas about gender inequality through the treatment of Sheila. When the Inspector narrates details of Eva being 'burnt inside out' with the use of emotive language, Mr Birling 'angrily' asks the Inspector why he told 'the child' that. On the surface, this presents Birling as a caring father but also as selfish father as he shows no remorse for the death of Eva but is unwilling for Sheila to hear 'grisly details'. However, he also refers to Sheila as a 'child'. Children have the connotation of innocence which suggests Birling is unwilling to tarnish his daughter with ghastly details. However, children are also viewed as vulnerable and need somebody to look after them suggesting that Sheila is weak. Although this may simply be because she is Mr Birling's child, Priestley may also be subtly drawing the idea of the stereotypical woman who is easily affected by such details and is emotionally weaker than men. This may also link to the idea of women being subservient to men due to this weakness. Through these stereotypes, Priestley explores gender inequality.
can you help me?? Could you just read over my work and give me some suggestions. It will only take a few minutes.
In both poems, nature is used as a vehicle to develop a sense of fear and helplessness within the people in the poems. However, while ‘Storm on the Island’ depicts the violent action and the destruction caused by nature to their island, ‘Exposure’ focuses on how nature plays the role of an enemy to the soldiers during the war; slowly and silently killing them all. Both poets present nature as a profoundly powerful and destructive force that can cause endless suffering and an immense amount of destruction.
Furthermore, both poems are written in first person plural. In ‘Exposure’, the first person plural reflects on how the soldiers’ experience of their suffering and hopelessness was shared between them. In ‘Storm on the Island, however, the use of the first person plural (“we”) shows how their experience was collective and communal. This could possibly suggest that the speaker believes that nature works against us humans and holds a significant amount of power over us thus is more destructive.
In ‘Storm on the Island’, the violence of nature is highlighted. Heaney uses a great deal of vivid description and use of sounds to create a sense of a violent storm throughout the poem. One way Heaney uses to describe the storm as destructive is by using war imagery. As the wind “pummels” the speaker’s house, he talks about how the “wind dives and strafes invisibly”. Here, Heaney compares the wind to a fighter plane ‘diving down’ and attacking the island, making the people seem weak and vulnerable; defenseless against the storm.
In ‘Exposure’ however, Owen personifies nature as if the natural elements are a greater threat than the opposition. As the soldiers “cringe in holes, they think about how nature’s “merciless iced east winds [...] knive” them. This quote conveys the wind as cruel and sinister and creates a dramatic image in the reader’s mind, clearly describing the physical pain that the soldiers were experiencing. Heaney also personifies ‘dawn’ using the language of battle. Dawn is usually considered to bring hope with however here, it only adds fuel to the fire where hope is being destroyed by nature.
Sure! Thank God, I'm doing power and conflict too! Your comparison is really good. Our teacher said it was good to pick out a similarity and show what differences the similarities show e.g. the usage of 'we' is used for different purposes. Your analysis is very good. You might have to write more but there is good use of subject terminology. Perhaps look more at the form. e.g. one stanza in Storm on the Island or use of enjambment e.g. quickens pace, shows relentlessness of wind. Also explore structure e.g. repetition in Exposure but otherwise well done!