I am going to examine the first twelve pages of ‘An Inspector Calls’. I will be discussing how important they are in the light of the play. The stage directions given by Priestley are very accurate and are just the way he wants them. They are like this, not only to help make the play easier for when it is done on stage, but it is just the way the Birling’s would have lived for example ‘Good solid Furniture of the period’. The lighting before the inspector arrives is pink and intimate ‘lighting… pink and intimate before inspector arrives’.
This is to show that the atmosphere of the people in the room is friendly and quite comfortable. The lighting then changes when the inspector arrives to a bright and hard light. This shows that the inspector is harsh and the family is put under the spot light. Edna the maid changes the lighting that is told to do it by Mr Birling he says ‘give us some more light’. This is ironic because Mr Birling does not want to have a spot light on him and his family. Mr Birling definitely seems to be in charge and he loves to impress people.
A quote to prove this is ‘its exactly the same port as your father gets’. Mr Birling also strongly believes in looking after himself and his family, but no others. A quote to prove this is ‘look after himself and his own’. Mr Birling also has a speech, which contains a lot of dramatic irony. For instance he mentions that the Titanic is an unsinkable ship. A quote to prove this is ‘an unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’. Mr Birling is also very about possibly getting a Knighthood. He shows off to Gerald by saying ‘chance of a Knighthood’.
Mrs Birling is quite a cold woman and doesn’t really care about classes lower than her. She is very snobby and always makes sure that her husband is keeping up his standards. For instance, when Mr Birling spoke honestly about his dinner she said ‘your not supposed to say such things’. Sheila, as it says in the stage directions, ‘is very pleased with life’. Though Eric also informs Gerald of her having a nasty and sinister side. Eric says ‘she’s got a nasty temper some times’. Sheila also doesn’t like being laughed at.
So when her brother laughs at her she says ‘your squiffy’ which means drunk. Eric is seen as different from the rest of the family because when he burst out laughing the rest of the family didn’t. Eric also does not like the ‘famous toast’ so when he says ‘all the best’ he says it in a tone of voice that is mocking the toast and his father. Gerald is more upper class than the Birling’s. So when Mr Birling mentions that he has the same port as Gerald’s father he just says ‘then it’ll be alright’.
Here he doesn’t think that having the same port is interesting because Gerald always has that port. Gerald also hides the fact that he was with another woman last summer by saying ‘I was awfully busy at the works all that time’. When the events of the play unfold only Sheila and Eric change because they were the only people who realise that they had done wrong. Whereas the adults did not change because they had a reputation to keep up. There are a lot of lies involved in ‘An Inspector Calls’. One of them I have mentioned already, which is the one about Gerald being at the works all that time.
There is also an abuse of power especially from Mr and Mrs Birling. They do not believe that the Inspector can talk to them in the way that he does. An important thing to mention about this play is that the door bell rings. It is at the time when Mr Birling is doing one of his speeches. He talks about people looking after their own. Whereas Priestley believed in looking out for everyone. So when the doorbell rings and the Inspector enter, it is the opposite of what Mr Birling talks about in his speech.
I think that the opening scene is very successful in drawing you into the play because you think that the Birling’s are just an ordinary middle class family. Then as you read on you discover that they are less ordinary than you think. After examining the opening twelve pages of ‘An Inspector Calls’ I discovered the importance of them in the light of what happens later on in the play. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J. B. Priestley section.