Discuss Priestley's depiction of the Birling household and Gerald

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Discuss Priestley's depiction of the Birling household and Gerald

Croft, prior to the arrival of Inspector Goole

In this submission I hope to fully discuss Priestley's depiction of

the Birling household and Gerald Croft, prior to the arrival of

Inspector Goole. The play is set in the fictional town of Brumley, an

industrial town in the North Midlands. It is evening in the town, in

the spring of 1912. At the moment the play starts the characters are

celebrating the engagement between Gerald Croft and the Birling

family's only daughter Sheila. They are all very pleased with

themselves and are enjoying the occasion.

The house is described as being a fairly large suburban house. The

furniture in the rooms is described as being, "good solid furniture of

the period. The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable,

but not cosy and homelike." As you will see later Mr. Birling always

wants to make the impression that he is better than his guest, or at

least is his guest's social equal. The furniture in the house may be

another one of Birling's attempt to make the guest feel this way. He

doesn't want to make the guest feel comfortable in his home he wants

to make them feel small and insignificant in comparison to himself.

Mrs. Birling is, herself, a person that is obsessed by social class,

she may have selected the furniture herself as a way of showing off

their status and again making their guests feel as if they aren't as

"good" as the Birling family. Birling as you will see later is the

stereotypical capitalist of the time. He will do anything to make

himself look and feel as if he is better than his guest. The furniture

represents the Birling families longing for status.

In the early 1900s social status was virtually everything. This was

because socialism dominated the whole of the United Kingdom. The

vertical social ladder of status was what controlled who was a

"somebody" and who was a "nobody". The description of the house is a

good example of how unsocial many families were during this time

because all anybody, who was "anybody", wanted was to show how wealthy

they were, and to climb the social ladder.

I shall now talk about the characters themselves.

Mr. Birling is described as being, "a heavy-looking, rather portentous

man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather

provincial in his speech." He is a prosperous factory owner and is "a

self made man". He follows all the capitalist traits of the time and

works heavily under the capitalist business mentality, "build them

cheap, sell them expensive".

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