How Does Priestley Establish Character and Theme in Act I of “an Inspector Calls”?

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How does Priestley establish character and theme in Act I of “An Inspector Calls”?

The writer sets the scene very clearly, making sure he gets the message across that they are a well off family. The atmosphere at the start of the play is happy and cheerful as they are all celebrating Gerald and Sheila’s engagement, we can tell they were happy because the stage directions tell us Gerald and Mrs. B were “smiling” at times and Sheila was being “half serious half playful. The stage directions at the start of the play also tell us that Mr. Birling is a “heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech”, this suggests that his character is very self involved. During one of Mr. Birling’s speeches about Gerald and Sheila’s engagement he says to Gerald “Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time now – though Crofts Limited are both older and bigger than Birling and Company – and now you’ve brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together – for lower costs and higher prices”. This tells us that his character may be at sometimes more interested in business than his family. The speeches that Mr. Birling makes are most of the time long, boring and show that he is egotistical. His speeches reveal a great deal about the social context. They include allot of dramatic irony for example when Mr. Birling says “Why. A friend of mine went over this new liner last week – the Titanic – she sails next week – forty six thousand eight hundred tons – forty six thousand eight hundred tons – New York in five days – and every luxury – and unsinkable”. This is dramatic irony because the audience know that titanic sunk on its first sail this creates tension and makes Mr. Birling look foolish. I think Mr. Birling is very much in control at the start of the play because to his family he is a “practical hard...
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