An Inspector Calls

how does Priestly present the Birling family at the start of An Inspector calls?

give evidence.

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Priestly presents the family as happy and content..... leaving us to expect a family drama.

the author begins with " heavily comfortable" "dining room of a fairly large suburban house belonging to a prosperous manufacturer " here the author presents this family as a rich family belonging to the upper class, however priestly manages to show us that they are uncomfortable with each other, he shows us how this house is "not cosy and home like" and the members of the house lack the close family connections and are rather shallow.

The begining stage directions talks about how they are seated at the table which shows the hierachy of each person. Arthur and his wife ar seated at either end of the table to show their superiority and control. Gerald and Sheila are seated upstage, so we can acknowdge that most of the attention would be on them and Eric is seated downstage which shows that he is of less importance in the family.

Arthur is described as a posh and arrogant snob

Sybil is described as socially superior to her husband, but is also an arrogant snob

Sheila is described as childish and nice

Gerald is described as arrogant and charming

Eric is described as a shy recluse who contrasts to his father.


We can identify that the Birlings are of a higher class "fairly large suburban house... good solid furniture", Subarban house portrays that the Birlings are slightly isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city."heavily comfortable" shows how they have wealth and luxuries and are rich, however "not cosy and homelike" shows us how the Birling House is quite cold and is like one of those ikea displays where it may look nice but hasnt any warmth. "a small table with a telephone" They have wealth and are social, "fireplace" means that they can afford coal.


an inspector calls

PriestleyArthur Birling is a character of many contradictions. Priestley has rightly made Mr Birling the focus of this Act as he is the head of the household. But he uses this platform as a stage to vent his own views on issues close to his heart. He alternates between extremes of concerned family man, to being a selfish self-obsessed man. Many years of being a "hard-headed business man" has created the character that is displayed in this act. This even extends to the marriage of his daughter to Gerald Croft, suitably the son of another successful business owner. Obviously Mr Birling believes that Gerald Croft is an ideal husband for his daughter because Croft's business connections complements Mr Birling's business. This is shown immediately when Arthur Birling states, "You'll be marrying at a very good time." There is no mention of the traditional requirements for marriage, such as love or commitment. This is solely a business transaction that pleases Birling as it boosts his own power and standing in the community, as well as making himself and his family more financially secure. The language he uses reinforces this obsession with money and power, words such as "interests", "capital", "protected" and "prosperity" all suggest a business man, not a prospective father-in-law. However, it is very easy to get carried away with this evidence and believe that Arthur Birling is a negative character. In fact he is a family man who is guiding his daughter into, what he believes is, a suitable marriage, while also protecting the family's financial interests. This also enables Birling to improve his own social standing, and gain the knighthood he desires. Nonetheless, Mr Birling insists on hijacking the engagement party to voice his own views on business, progress and the war. With hindsight his views are shown to be ridiculous; subsequently two major wars occurred, labour strikes became more common and the "unsinkable" Titanic sank weeks later. How wrong can you be? His self-importance is shown when he states, "Just let me finish", then talks over Eric telling him he "has a lot to learn". This is ironic as Birling is shown to be the character who needs to learn at the end of the play, which emphasises what a pompous character Birling is, bullying others into agreeing with his views


An inspector calls- JB Priestley.

Priestley starts the play by establishing a happy contented mood on stage. He does this by emphasising their wealth and prosperity. The gathering around the table portrays a nice, close family as does the banter. Furthermore, Priestley uses lighting tone to depict a light, happy atmosphere. Secondly, the exchange of flattering compliments; "you seem to be a nice well-behaved family". Furthermore, the families natural expectancy of having 'the very best life can offer" shows how they've been sheltered and indulged upon lavishly. This projects the false image of a close loving family.

However, although Priestley uses many devices to project a happy lively atmosphere, the undercurrent of terrible secrets foreshadow the event. For example Erics speech, described as "rather noisily" implies a man that slowly loses control. Moreover, an exchange passes between Sheila and Gerald where Sheila reveals how Gerald never came near' her in the previous summer; and then replying to his excuse of being "Busy" with an ambiguous response 'thats what you say" which hints there might be another explanation.