Mr Birling

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How is the interrogation of Mr Birling made dramatic. What does this extract reveal about the themes of the play? Priestley introduces us to each character in the first few pages of his short play “An Inspector Calls”. It is established that we are thrust upon a political marriage between the Birling family and Gerald Croft, son of the owner of Crofts Ltd, a competitor to Birling & Co. The family are celebrating the engagement of Gerald Croft to Mr Birling’s daughter, Sheila just before an Inspector rings the doorbell. After this interrogation the Birling family will never be the same again.

Before the Inspector arrives, we see Mr Birling at the height of his pomposity “Yes, you don’t know what some of the boys get up to nowadays...I don’t want to lecture you two young fellows”. Mr Birling is extremely earnest in these two paragraphs before the Inspector arrives and this is highlighted with Priestley’s stage direction of “solemnly”. The words and phrases Mr Birling uses just before the Inspector “appears” is extremely ironic and makes the entrance and preparation of the arrival of the Inspector even more so dramatic considering that these words are infact referring to Inspector Goole’s philosophy. In comparison to Mr Birling’s insolate approach, highlighting a key theme of the play already which is Mr Birling’s microcosm of the society he lives in.

The entrance of Inspector Goole is made dramatic with the timing from the stage directions “We hear the sharp ring of a front door bell”. The word sharp is perhaps a metaphor for the Inspector’s interrogation on the family. Priestley chooses for the doorbell to ring at this time, as it cuts Mr Birling off from his literal height of ostentation which is shown in the text with his words being cut off using hyphens “his own – and –”. The doorbell ringing at this time is both a metaphorically and literal interruption which represents another disturbance and in hindsight threatens to shatter the family because of...
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