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Could someone please give feedback and/or a mark for my essay on AIC?

The question that I attempted, coming from a 2019 paper, is as follows:
How does Priestley present selfishness and its effects in An Inspector Calls?
Write about: examples of selfish behaviour in the play and how Priestley presents selfishness and its effects.
[30 marks]
AO4 [4 marks]

Here's my response:

In the didactic play 'An Inspector Calls', the quintessential values of capitalism through inheritance and hierarchy displays to the audience how society must change from a selfish, innate nature to socialist reform.

Many capitalistic qualities are associated with the characters 'Mr Birling' and 'Gerald Croft' that Priestley utilises as a construct. The characters display greedy, materialistic alliances to aid the bourgeoise social class. Mr Birling and Croft subjugates the prolateriat's wealth by having "cheaper costs" and "higher prices", discerning any compassion for the working class. It forces people like Eva Smith to "count pennies". This clearly shows a cartel methodology because the working class have no other option but to conform to low wages in this industry.

Moreover, Priestley constructs Mr Birling's first name as an analogy, 'Arthur'. This name is reciprocal to 'King Arthur' who heavily imposed Marxist ideologies. In this scenario, King Arthur sat at a round table with several people, all equidistant from each other. Therefore, when King Arthur stripped everyone's wealth, they were all identical to one body. This is ironical because Priestley has juxtaposed Mr Birling at the '[dining table]', shown in the stage directions, with King Arthur. Additionally, Mr Birling was at the head with his family at varying distances from each other, all possessing different materials. Consequently, this represents the hierarchy of 1912. The audience would have learnt to oppose this, and therefore would have elected a Labour government in 1945.

Following the speech "A man has to look after his own and-", Mr Birling gets interrupted by '[a sharp ring of a doorbell]'. The stage direction implies that Mr Birling has summoned God to cleanse his sinful speech. Priestley has constructed the Inspector as a proxy for Christian values. Alternatively, the '[ring of a doorbell]' could represent the working class' dissatisfaction of their treatment, and have waged a rebellion or protest. Much of the audience are middle and upper class. Therefore, Priestley has synthesised Christianity as an allegory to cease the immoral treatment of workers.

Similarly, the Inspector has concluded a teaching to the Birlings: "If men do not learn, they will be taught in fire, blood, and anguish". This speech has specifically been directed to "men" because of the patriarchal society imposed in 1912. Furthermore, Priestley has set this play before World War One to show the didactic element. If men have learnt their lesson, they would not have started WW1 and WW2. Therefore, business owners have utilised the wars in conquest for more power because it will further their financial interest for resources and territory.

Lastly, selfishness is conveyed through misogynistic behaviour. When Eric had a relationship with Daisy, he confessed to being "in the state when a chap turns nasty". "the state" connotates that this is an archetypal act. However, the audience would be disgusted of this treatment towards women. He treated Daisy as property, giving 'fifty pounds' to lure her back to the relationship. Usually, this money was used for drinking, implying that his demeanour was perpetuated by being drunk. Overall, Priestley has presented many behaviours relating to selfishness.
Reply 1
Most of this seems like just one paragraph, if these are intended to be separate you need to make a statement at the beginning summarising your point and making sure it's distinctive and unlike others you've previously discussed. You could go a lot further with quote analysis. In one of your paragraphs you've discussed patriarchy, which would be an excellent point to bring in the selfishness of women in the play to have a multifaced answer, or an argument into the older generation of women against the younger which will demonstrate a much more broad understanding of all the characters in reference to the question. You can even go into more detail, how the dining table is the centre image of the play, symbolic of the middle and upper class, or the drawing room nature of the play. There's so much more to add, and go into detail with to show you have a much more in-depth knowledge of the play where you can analysis specific nuances and how it aids Priestley's overall message.

This sort of Structure might help in expanding your paragraphs to make sure you're able to get as many marks as you can in each paragraph.
Point (What the Paragraph will be discussing in reference to the question), Response (Your analytical response, to show off your understanding of the play), Evaluate (Bring in context, show off your historical and authorial context) , Terminology (Usually where you introduce a quote, and make sure you've included as much terminology as you can), Zoom (explain the affect of the language technique used, why has Priestley decided to use irony, or juxtaposition, fall into the wind of the playwright and his intentions by doing this), Audience (what is the impact of this, on both the intended, and modern audience), Link (mention the question again and reiterate the point of your paragraph).

I used this structure in my GCSEs, and received a 9, it covers all AOs.
Overall, your response provides a good analysis of how Priestley presents selfishness and its effects in "An Inspector Calls." You've highlighted several instances of selfish behavior and linked them to capitalist qualities and societal issues. However, some specific points would enhance your essay:
In the introduction, you could consider adding a brief overview of the play's plot and its setting to provide context for readers who might not be familiar with "An Inspector Calls."
Your essay effectively identifies examples of selfish behavior through characters like Mr. Birling and Gerald Croft. Consider including quotes or dialogue from the play demonstrating their materialistic attitudes and disregard for the working class to strengthen your argument.
You have made connections between selfish behavior and capitalist values, but it might be beneficial to delve deeper into how Priestley uses these characters to critique the capitalist system. Elaborate on how their actions and attitudes perpetuate social and economic inequalities and how this reflects the societal structure of the time.
Your interpretation of the Inspector as a proxy for Christian values is interesting. To further strengthen this point, analyze how the Inspector's questioning and moral stance challenge the selfish behavior of the Birlings and Crofts. How does the Inspector's presence disrupt the comfortable facade of the upper class and confront them with their moral shortcomings?
Your inclusion of Eric's misogynistic behavior is relevant, demonstrating another facet of selfishness in the play. You could expand on this by discussing how the male characters' objectification and mistreatment of women symbolize the more significant issue of patriarchal power dynamics and the devaluation of women in society.
While your essay covers various aspects of selfishness in the play, organize your ideas more cohesively. Consider breaking your response into distinct paragraphs, each focusing on a specific aspect or example of selfish behavior. This will make your essay easier to follow and help reinforce your main arguments.
Wrap up your essay with a concise conclusion summarizing your main points about how Priestley presents selfishness and its effects in "An Inspector Calls." You can reiterate the significance of these themes in the context of the play's didactic purpose and their relevance to the broader societal issues that Priestley aimed to address.
In general, your essay shows a good understanding of the play's themes and critique of selfishness within a capitalist society. Expanding on some of your points and providing specific textual evidence can create a more comprehensive and convincing analysis. Keep up the excellent work!
Reply 3
Excellent advice, thank you :smile:
Reply 4
hiii,
I can’t mark it for you but I can give you some advice.
1. Love the terminology but make sure you’re clear on the definition and you’re using the words correctly, as if not it screams “I googled the plot before the play”, also words like “quintessential” just aren’t necessary for top grades, use language you’re comfortable with and that’s formal enough, but stuff like “core” or “key” is plenty
2. Remember it’s a literature essay, the quotes are great and show you’re familiar with the plot but you need to include literary techniques in your writing (even if it’s just ‘such as the metaphor “…” / the expanded noun phrase “…”
3. Too much context? Adding context is great but doesn’t make up tons of the mark scheme, I’d recommend checking it to see preportions since I’m not certain, but keep in mind its an English essay, not a history one
4. Write not type!!! Unless you’ll be using a laptop/ scribe in the exam typing is not going to help your exam technique develop. Typing is often a lot quicker, so it’s best to practice handwriting answers to make sure you can fit it in time, and that your handwriting and spelling are consistent

This is all relevant for AQA, if you don’t study that feel free to ignore haha

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