How does Priestley present the Briling Family

Topics: An Inspector Calls, J. B. Priestley, Time and the Conways Pages: 3 (1335 words) Published: November 9, 2013
An Inspector Calls is a play written by J.B. Priestley based in England, 1912. The main family in the play is the Birling family which consists of Arthur Birling the main character, Sybil Birling his wife, Sheila Birling his daughter and Eric Birling his son. There is also Gerald Croft who is planning on marrying Sheila. In the opening they are in their dining room which is a ‘fairly large suburban house’ implying they are of middle class, but rising up and probably at the higher end of the spectrum. Arthur Birling is seen by the audience when the curtains go up as a ‘rather portentous man’; this gives them the image of someone who is very serious and significant. Despite this image the audience get, this is later diminished by what Mr Birling says after that. He goes on and talks about the Titanic and how it is ‘absolutely unsinkable’; he also says about the Kaiser and how ‘nobody wants war’, he also makes references to England’s ‘steadily increasing prosperity’ and how Russia ‘will always be behindhand naturally’. We know that all four of these statements are nonsense as the Titanic sunk, the Kaiser started WW1, England didn’t have prosperity and instead there was a global recession in 1929 known as the Great Depression also in 1917 the Russian Revolution occurred. This naturally makes the audience see Mr Birling as a person they cannot really take seriously or believe what he says, this device used by Priestley known as dramatic irony as we know it is all lies but the characters in the play do not. In addition to this Priestley gives the impression that Mr Birling is a man who doesn’t really like socialists as he speaks negatively about ‘Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells’ and thinks of them as ‘cranks’ implying that Mr Birling is a capitalist. Also Mr Birling seems to be a rather sycophantic character as he seems to be creeping up to Gerald, the audience might get this impression as when he speaks to Gerald he always seems to be dropping hints about how ‘there’s a...
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