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Practice questions- An inspector calls

hi, i am currently revising for my english literature mock exam on an inspector calls tomorrow, ive just completed this practic question and was wondering how many marks this would achieve, thank you!!

How does Priestley present Mr Birling in An Inspector Calls?

Priestley presents the character of Mr Birling as confident, opulent and ambitious although his authority is undermined throughout the extent of the play.

At the beginning of the play, whilst celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald Mr Birling delivers an engagement speech on how important the wedding is to him and the prosperous future that the young couple will have together due to the changing times. In the quote “unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable” in reference to the Titanic Priestley uses dramatic irony in order to undermine Mr Birling, this is because the audience in 1945 and the modern-day audience are aware that the Titanic sank during her maiden voyage. This presents the recurring idea presented that Mr Birling, while being a successful businessman, does not have a good judgement and that this has a detrimental impact on his actions and decisions throughout the play such as contradictions to equality, a refusal to cooperate with the inspector and a lack of sympathy towards Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. A modern-day audience is also aware that Mr Birling sees climbing the social rankings of the time as more important that his daughter being in a happy and fulfilling marriage, this is a usual ideal for upper class families of the early 20th century as marriage was seen as a way to improve social status and daughters were engaged as business transactions. Overall, this diminishes Mr Birlings authority and generates a distaste towards him from the audience.

Another way that Priestley presents Mr Birling as an unlikeable and snobbish character is his refusal to accept responsibility for the death of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. When workers went on strike at his company instead of raising wages and improving the lives of his workers, he actively makes their lives worse, refusing to increase the pitiful amounts his workers were paid and resulted in Eva being personally fired by Mr Birling from her position in the company. Once Mr Birling is made aware of his part in Eva's suicide he comes across to the audience as largely unsympathetic denying his responsibility stating “the girl had been causing trouble in the works. I was quite justified”, this shows his total lack of empathy painting him as selfish and unlikeable.

Throughout the play, Priestley uses a range of techniques in order to present the character of Mr Birling as Unlikeable and self-absorbed, this leads to him being insatiably disliked by a proportional amount of the audience.

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