_natalielily
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Hello,

I am really struggling with my anxiety at the moment, and GCSE English is the main cause.
Please could someone have a look at my essay and give me some helpful feedback?? It was a mock on how Priestley presents Mr Birling as a selfish character.
Priestley presents Mr Birling as a self-centred bigoted ‘business man’ who Priestley uses to criticize the selfish nature of capitalism and highlight the need for change in society.

In the exposition, Priestley establishes Mr Birling is a selfish character whose self-perception is based solely on wealth and social status. While lecturing Gerald about his utterly wrong views on the economy, Titanic and the war, Mr Birling highlights to Gerald that ‘a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and his own’. The personal pronouns ‘his’ and ‘himself’ clearly demonstrate to the audience that Mr Birling is a strong capitalist who lacks care and compassion for those around him. By immediately portraying Mr Birling as selfish and pompous, the audience are encouraged to dislike not only Mr Birling as a character, but also his capitalistic views in which he stands for. This phrase is later repeated in the play when Mr Birling claims that ‘a man has to look after himself- and his family, of course’. The repetition of the strong capitalist ideology further reinforces Mr Birling’s selfish nature. As a later thought, displayed by the hyphen, Birling says that a man should look after his family. He puts himself before his family, not only in his words, but in his life also. By adding ‘of course’ to the end, Priestley suggests that Birling is confident in his speaking and feels others should agree with him however, it hints to an underlying sense of anxiety and worry surrounding his social status and authority. Priestley uses Mr Birling and his attitudes towards looking after himself to represent the blind-eyed and uncaring older generation of capitalists whose strong morals are the reason that the ‘millions and millions of Eva Smith and John Smiths’ are in poverty.

After the Inspector arrives (the perfect timing dismissing Mr Birling’s speech on capitalism) and interrogates Mr Birling, Mr Birling shows little care towards his role in Eva’s death. He feels he is ‘perfectly justified’ and that he fired her as it is his ‘duty to keep labour costs down’. The abstract noun ‘duty’ displays to the audience that he feels he is responsible for his business and suggest he acts like a dutiful parent for the business. This is ironic, because Eric highlights the uncaring ways of his father, Mr Birling, as he feels that he's ‘not the kind of father a chap can go to when he is in trouble’. This insulting phrase demonstrates a clear contradiction between how Mr Birling treats his family and children and how he treats his business. The audience knows that parents are always there for their children, so not only does this phrase allude to tensions within the family, it also displays Mr Birling’s uncaring, dismissive character. He would rather care for his ‘prosperous’ business than his family; himself before his family.

Priestley once again suggests Mr Birling as a conceited egotistical man by displaying his need for climbing the ranks of society. After learning that Gerald is engaged to Shiela, we would expect Mr Birling to celebrate his love for Sheila and his congratulations. Instead, he sees this almost as a business transaction- his daughter for ‘higher prices’. He sees his marriage as a way of ‘joining together’ with Geralds family’s company. He calls ‘lower costs and higher prices’, signposting his business-minded attitude. The juxtaposition of ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ could be symbolic of the differences between those affluent in the Upper classes, like Birling, and those less fortunate in the lower classes, like Eva. Priestley demonstrates Birling’s business based mind, instead of his family-based mind as a way of showing to the audience the lack of compassion bigoted capitalists have- hence, they were the reason so many people lost their sons and brothers in the second and first World War.

Birling also tries to impress Gerald, who is of a higher class, as a way to climb the social ranks and grow his business. He buys port that ‘Finchley told me... your father gets’ -signifying to the audience that he is trying to appeal to Gerald (and his family) in hopes that the two families will be ‘working together’. He also resorts to name dropping of ‘Finchley’ to display his authority and tried to befriend Gerald’s higher status family. The drink port also connotes wealth and affluence, as it was a drink only the rich could afford and those lacking money were prohibited from buying.

Overall, throughout the play, Priestley presents Mr Birling as a selfish capitalist who ‘can't accept responsibility’. Priestley uses Birling as a foil to the socialist-minded Inspector, who is Priestley’s mouthpiece, as a way of criticizing the capitalist society that is so damaging to less fortunate people (who are represented in the play by Eva). In conclusion, I agree with the statement, as Mr Birling is reinforced to be an egotistical man with a lack of care and compassion for others.
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Down_worlder
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This is a really good essay!

Some quick tips:

One thing my GCSE English teacher spent hours pushing into our heads was that you must NOT have any narrative sentences, e.g. 'Mr Birling highlights to Gerald that ‘a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and his own. The personal pronouns..'. To get top marks, you MUST have an argument in every sentence, so fusing the two would be much better: 'Mr Birling highlights to Gerald that ‘a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and his own; the personal pronouns..'. Use of semicolons, hyphens and ellipses is essential, it's good to get these all into every essay and they help with the linking of clauses.

Also, it is important to, if possible, to not analyse a phrase without analysing the language/techniques. Even if you're just saying 'the verb/article/exclamative phrase .... suggests this' You can literally analyse everything, from word length to fricative/sibilant/plosive sounds. It also may be good to include some longer quotations. Not too long, just so there's enough to analyse.

A few grammatical mistakes: 'he buys port that ‘Finchley told me... your father gets’ -signifying to the audience...' - this should be a comma instead of a hyphen. If you did want to use the latter, you would write 'he buys port that ‘Finchley told me... your father gets’ - this signifies to the audience...'. Look into how to use punctuation correctly.

One thing that fetches lots of marks is having an introduction or conclusion that starts with a quote by a critic/writer/book/film/anyone well known that somehow relates to the source. Literally, you can quote aristotle (look into his commentary on plays), harry potter, or gnomio and juliet, and it will all get you marks. This leads into the next point that it is great to have context - write about the author's life, what influenced them, and even works made after the book that take inspiration or relate in some way. Link this to your point.

REALLY IMPORTANT: instead of saying 'the character did this....', mention THE WRITER'S NAME!! 'The writer writes so and so, implying that blah blah blah, connoting his experience as ....' - this shows awareness that all characters and plot lines are just devices conjured up by the writer to convey a point.

PS - I have no idea what book this is so I can give no specific advice, but I did get a grade nine in lang and lit.
Last edited by Down_worlder; 1 month ago
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oliviaolivv0101
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In general, I liked your essay but this is my personal opinion. When I was in college, I easily coped with my studies. The only thing I didn't like and couldn't write this essay (so https://www.yelp.com/biz/grabmyessay-new-york always helped). Fortunately, this is my one my problem with studying, so I calmly did sports, spent a lot of time with friends and worked. I will say it again that I am not an expert and not very good at writing essays, but I really liked yours. I hope your teacher will like it too!
Last edited by oliviaolivv0101; 1 month ago
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_natalielily
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(Original post by Down_worlder)
This is a really good essay!

Some quick tips:

One thing my GCSE English teacher spent hours pushing into our heads was that you must NOT have any narrative sentences, e.g. 'Mr Birling highlights to Gerald that ‘a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and his own. The personal pronouns..'. To get top marks, you MUST have an argument in every sentence, so fusing the two would be much better: 'Mr Birling highlights to Gerald that ‘a man has to mind his own business and take care of himself and his own; the personal pronouns..'. Use of semicolons, hyphens and ellipses is essential, it's good to get these all into every essay and they help with the linking of clauses.

Also, it is important to, if possible, to not analyse a phrase without analysing the language/techniques. Even if you're just saying 'the verb/article/exclamative phrase .... suggests this' You can literally analyse everything, from word length to fricative/sibilant/plosive sounds. It also may be good to include some longer quotations. Not too long, just so there's enough to analyse.

A few grammatical mistakes: 'he buys port that ‘Finchley told me... your father gets’ -signifying to the audience...' - this should be a comma instead of a hyphen. If you did want to use the latter, you would write 'he buys port that ‘Finchley told me... your father gets’ - this signifies to the audience...'. Look into how to use punctuation correctly.

One thing that fetches lots of marks is having an introduction or conclusion that starts with a quote by a critic/writer/book/film/anyone well known that somehow relates to the source. Literally, you can quote aristotle (look into his commentary on plays), harry potter, or gnomio and juliet, and it will all get you marks. This leads into the next point that it is great to have context - write about the author's life, what influenced them, and even works made after the book that take inspiration or relate in some way. Link this to your point.

REALLY IMPORTANT: instead of saying 'the character did this....', mention THE WRITER'S NAME!! 'The writer writes so and so, implying that blah blah blah, connoting his experience as ....' - this shows awareness that all characters and plot lines are just devices conjured up by the writer to convey a point.

PS - I have no idea what book this is so I can give no specific advice, but I did get a grade nine in lang and lit.
Thank you so much!!!! This is so helpful and I really appreciate it. I only scored 16/30 for this essay (which is similar to my top set class average), but really didn't understand how I lost so many marks. Your feedback is really useful and I will definitely take this into account when next writing an essay. Have an amazing day god bless
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_natalielily
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(Original post by oliviaolivv0101)
In general, I liked your essay but this is my personal opinion. When I was in college, I easily coped with my studies. The only thing I didn't like and couldn't write this essay. Fortunately, this is my one my problem with studying, so I calmly did sports, spent a lot of time with friends and worked. I will say it again that I am not an expert and not very good at writing essays, but I really liked yours. I hope your teacher will like it too!
Thank you!!! I really relate to you- I struggle writing essays but cope well with my studies and classes in general. Once again thank you for your advice. Have a great day
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