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Please can someone mark my essay on how Mr Birling is presented throughout the play?

‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestley is a morality play disguised as a detective thriller, wherein Priestley uses his characters to criticise various faults in society. In a play where each character is an exaggerated caricature of their class, Mr Birling represents the bombastic and oppressive ideas of the capitalist upper class.

At the start of the play Mr Birling is described as ‘a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties’. Portentous means pompous and self-important; his words do not carry weight. This is clear later on when Mr Birling shares his turgid thoughts that the titanic is ‘unsinkable absolutely unsinkable’ and that just because ‘a few German officers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense’ that WW1 won’t occur. The readers and audience of the play will know that the titanic crashes the day after the play is set and that WW1 occurs 2 years later. This is Priestley using dramatic irony to make a joke out of Mr birling most likely because Priestley himself was socialist and hated the capitalist Mr Birlings of the world. Moreover, his use of the word ‘fiddlesticks’ when answering Erics question suggests that he does not have much respect for people who believe that War will break out. He is so certain in his beliefs that he dismisses the views of others without real consideration. Priestley’s presentation of Mr Birling in the start of the first act encourages the audience to question the behaviour of Mr Birling and in turn the upper class.

Later, in Act 1, while Mr Birling is giving an elongated Capitalist speech in an attempt to impress everyone with his misplaced political views he is interrupted by a ‘sharp ring of a front door’ which foreshadows how the socialist inspector will cut down these ideas throughout the play, this is Priestley once again expressing his views on Socialism vs Capitalism. While being questioned Mr birling makes many callous remarks about Eva, for example ‘it has nothing whatever to do with the wretched girls suicide’. Wretched could mean unfortunate but in this case it means inconvenient. This reflects how the upper class were so disconnected and disgusted by the lower class that they would treat them with no respect or empathy even when a death had occurred. In addition to this Birlings opinions on social responsibility are apparent early on when he says ‘Still I can’t accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything…” Mr Birling continues to deny any responsibility which is a trait of the obnoxious bourgeoisie. Priestley also presents Birling as a misogynist when he loses his temper and exclaims that his daughter shouldn’t be ‘dragged into this unpleasant business’. Why should Eric be allowed to stay but Sheila can’t? This is a classic example of men (particularly fathers) creating harmful stereotypes that women shouldn’t be exposed to ‘unpleasant’ things. So far in the play Birling has revealed that he is a cold, misogynistic capitalist, Priestley makes Birling look like a bad person (which he is) to try and manipulate peoples views on capitalism.

Finally Priestley presents Birling as a bad father who cares more about his reputation than his own son: ‘I’ve got to cover this up as soon as I can’. Mr Birling worries more about his reputation than anything else, when Eric reveals that he ‘borrowed’ money from the company to give to Eva, Birling selfishly worries about the repercussions for himself. He does not consider the morality of his actions (or Eric’s), but rather wishes to avoid scandal and other consequences on his social standing. Furthermore it can be argued that Birling is blind to the fact that Eric does care more than his he gives him credit for, (‘You! You don’t seem to care about anything’) but it is clear that what is valued by the two men is very different. Ultimately by the end of the play Birling clearly still hasn’t learned his lesson, ‘That fellow obviously didn’t like us. He was prejudiced from the start. Probably a socialist or some sort of crank’. Birling is derogatory towards socialists, such as Priestley calling them ‘cranks’ and implying that they are filled with madness. Priestley uses Birlings character to highlight how wrong many were to be against the principals of socialism. Ironically it was in-fact Mr Birling who was prejudiced from the start.

Throughout the play, Mr Birling is presented as a moronic Capitalist who is oblivious to the world around him and how his actions affect others. Priestley uses Birling to teach everyone how the upper class mistreated their subordinates and were consciously prejudice to not only the lower classes but to women too.
Original post by pinkcata
‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestley is a morality play disguised as a detective thriller, wherein Priestley uses his characters to criticise various faults in society. In a play where each character is an exaggerated caricature of their class, Mr Birling represents the bombastic and oppressive ideas of the capitalist upper class.
At the start of the play Mr Birling is described as ‘a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties’. Portentous means pompous and self-important; his words do not carry weight. This is clear later on when Mr Birling shares his turgid thoughts that the titanic is ‘unsinkable absolutely unsinkable’ and that just because ‘a few German officers have too much to drink and begin talking nonsense’ that WW1 won’t occur. The readers and audience of the play will know that the titanic crashes the day after the play is set and that WW1 occurs 2 years later. This is Priestley using dramatic irony to make a joke out of Mr birling most likely because Priestley himself was socialist and hated the capitalist Mr Birlings of the world. Moreover, his use of the word ‘fiddlesticks’ when answering Erics question suggests that he does not have much respect for people who believe that War will break out. He is so certain in his beliefs that he dismisses the views of others without real consideration. Priestley’s presentation of Mr Birling in the start of the first act encourages the audience to question the behaviour of Mr Birling and in turn the upper class.
Later, in Act 1, while Mr Birling is giving an elongated Capitalist speech in an attempt to impress everyone with his misplaced political views he is interrupted by a ‘sharp ring of a front door’ which foreshadows how the socialist inspector will cut down these ideas throughout the play, this is Priestley once again expressing his views on Socialism vs Capitalism. While being questioned Mr birling makes many callous remarks about Eva, for example ‘it has nothing whatever to do with the wretched girls suicide’. Wretched could mean unfortunate but in this case it means inconvenient. This reflects how the upper class were so disconnected and disgusted by the lower class that they would treat them with no respect or empathy even when a death had occurred. In addition to this Birlings opinions on social responsibility are apparent early on when he says ‘Still I can’t accept any responsibility. If we were all responsible for everything…” Mr Birling continues to deny any responsibility which is a trait of the obnoxious bourgeoisie. Priestley also presents Birling as a misogynist when he loses his temper and exclaims that his daughter shouldn’t be ‘dragged into this unpleasant business’. Why should Eric be allowed to stay but Sheila can’t? This is a classic example of men (particularly fathers) creating harmful stereotypes that women shouldn’t be exposed to ‘unpleasant’ things. So far in the play Birling has revealed that he is a cold, misogynistic capitalist, Priestley makes Birling look like a bad person (which he is) to try and manipulate peoples views on capitalism.
Finally Priestley presents Birling as a bad father who cares more about his reputation than his own son: ‘I’ve got to cover this up as soon as I can’. Mr Birling worries more about his reputation than anything else, when Eric reveals that he ‘borrowed’ money from the company to give to Eva, Birling selfishly worries about the repercussions for himself. He does not consider the morality of his actions (or Eric’s), but rather wishes to avoid scandal and other consequences on his social standing. Furthermore it can be argued that Birling is blind to the fact that Eric does care more than his he gives him credit for, (‘You! You don’t seem to care about anything’) but it is clear that what is valued by the two men is very different. Ultimately by the end of the play Birling clearly still hasn’t learned his lesson, ‘That fellow obviously didn’t like us. He was prejudiced from the start. Probably a socialist or some sort of crank’. Birling is derogatory towards socialists, such as Priestley calling them ‘cranks’ and implying that they are filled with madness. Priestley uses Birlings character to highlight how wrong many were to be against the principals of socialism. Ironically it was in-fact Mr Birling who was prejudiced from the start.
Throughout the play, Mr Birling is presented as a moronic Capitalist who is oblivious to the world around him and how his actions affect others. Priestley uses Birling to teach everyone how the upper class mistreated their subordinates and were consciously prejudice to not only the lower classes but to women too.

Hey,

I haven't read an English essay in a while ( I sat my GCSEs 2 years ago) so I wouldn't know exactly what raw mark to give but I did get a grade 9. From reading this I would say to improve make your thesis way stronger, the question is about Mr Birling so focus on him in your thesis. You clearly have great knowledge of the character and play but refine it and challenge it so it's not like you're just retelling his story. Zoom into the words and label the word classes (adj etc…) and actually give the meanings of the word and then link to wider context so you're not making general statements. Its key to set yourself apart I really recommend looking at Physics and Maths Tutor as they have some great character profiles!
Reply 2
Original post by Florence_6791
Hey,
I haven't read an English essay in a while ( I sat my GCSEs 2 years ago) so I wouldn't know exactly what raw mark to give but I did get a grade 9. From reading this I would say to improve make your thesis way stronger, the question is about Mr Birling so focus on him in your thesis. You clearly have great knowledge of the character and play but refine it and challenge it so it's not like you're just retelling his story. Zoom into the words and label the word classes (adj etc…) and actually give the meanings of the word and then link to wider context so you're not making general statements. Its key to set yourself apart I really recommend looking at Physics and Maths Tutor as they have some great character profiles!

Thank you so much! I'll definitely look into this and make some tweaks!

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