The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Analysis of Key Quotes in 'An Inspector Calls'

In this worksheet, students will practice analysing key quotations from Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls', exploring the writer's use of language, structure and dramatic devices.

'Analysis of Key Quotes in 'An Inspector Calls'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

In the exam, you will need to able to support your ideas with quotations from the text.

 

 

You should try to build a bank of quotations for each character and theme and learn these so that you can use them readily in your exam response.

 

For a higher mark in the exam, you should try to analyse quotations closely.

 

Try to zoom in on individual words.

 

camera held in two hands

 

 

Think about:

 

- what language/structure/dramatic device has Priestley used? E.g. dramatic irony, symbolism, etc.

- what are the connotations of this word? What does it suggest about the character/theme?

- what effect does this have on the audience?

- how does it help to reflect something about the context in which Priestley was writing?

 

Have a go at the following questions which will help you to closely analyse quotations and think about what they suggest about particular characters, themes or ideas in 'An Inspector Calls'.

Which 4 words would you 'zoom in' on in the quotation below to demonstrate Mr Birling's capitalist viewpoint?

\"...perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together- for lower costs and higher prices.\"

What does the quotation below suggest about Mrs Birling's attitude to marriage and gender roles?

 

"When you're married you'll realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business. You'll have to get used to that, just as I had."

Mrs Birling is shown to rebel against the gender hierarchy between men and women

Mrs Birling is shown to be submissive towards the gender hierarchy and accepts her lot in life, telling her daughter that she will have to do the same

Mr Birling is presented as a capitalist who doesn't believe in social responsibility.

 

What dramatic device does Priestley use to undermine Mr Birling's opinions in the following quotations?

 

Titanic

 

"you'll hear some people say that war's inevitable. And to that I say - fiddlesticks!"

 

"the Titanic - she sails next week ... unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable."

Priestley uses a simile to show Mr Birling criticising the idea of community and social responsibility

 

"But the way some cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else..."

"as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive"

as if we were all working together like ants in a column"

As well as analysing language devices, for the highest marks in the exam you should also try to explore structural and dramatic devices.

 

Look at the following part of the text from Act 1:

 

'Mr Birling: I've learnt in the good hard school of experience - that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own - and -

(We hear the sharp ring of a front door bell. Birling stops to listen.)' 

 

What is the effect of the action suggested in the stage direction at this point in the play? Choose the most effective analysis below.

The 'ring' of the door bell offers some light relief for the audience after the dramatic tension built in Mr Birling's speech

Priestley places the 'sharp ring' of the doorbell at this point in Mr Birling's speech to interrupt his selfish opinion and to make the audience make a connection between Mr Birling's words here and the Inspector's subsequent interrogation

The 'sharp ring' of the door bell helps to build more dramatic tension for the audience

When the Inspector arrives, which line spoken by Mr Birling uses symbolism to suggest that the truth is about to be exposed?

 

lamp and an armchair

Write the quotation below, using quotation marks.

Priestley presents Mrs Birling as prejudiced towards Eva and looks down on her as a working-class woman.

 

Which two words would you 'zoom in' on in the following quotation to show Mrs Birling's prejudice:

 

"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money."

\"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money.\"

What theme is explored in the following quotation?

 

"We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other."

Age

Gender

Responsibility

Match the following quotations to the analytical comment about what they show about each character speaking.

Column A

Column B

"(looking at them all, triumphantly)"
The impact of the Inspector's lesson is certainly ...
"(decisively): We can settle that at once."
Sheila's viewpoint juxtaposes her parents; the new...
"(smiling): And I must say Gerald, you've argued t...
Gerald seems determined to prove that the Inspecto...
"Everything we said had happened really had happen...
Mrs Birling is shown to be very pleased when Geral...
"And I agree with Sheila. It frightens me too."
Mr Birling is extremely pleased and almost smug wh...

"So - well - I gather there's a very good chance of a knighthood - so long as we behave ourselves, don't get into the police court or start a scandal - eh? (laughs complacently...)"

 

Write a paragraph analysing the effect of this quotation taken from Act 1 of 'An Inspector Calls'.

 

Try to comment on the writer's craft and link back to the context in which Priestley was writing.

  • Question 1

Which 4 words would you 'zoom in' on in the quotation below to demonstrate Mr Birling's capitalist viewpoint?

CORRECT ANSWER
"...perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together- for lower costs and higher prices."
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? Priestley highlights Mr Birling's interest in his own personal acquisition of wealth, a capitalist viewpoint, through his focus on 'lower costs' and 'higher prices'. Priestley presents this as a selfish attitude which results in the working class characters like Eva at the bottom of the social hierarchy, really struggling to survive while business owners thrive. Priestley depicted the capitalist society in 1912 as a warning of what society could return to in 1945/6 if people weren't careful.
  • Question 2

What does the quotation below suggest about Mrs Birling's attitude to marriage and gender roles?

 

"When you're married you'll realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business. You'll have to get used to that, just as I had."

CORRECT ANSWER
Mrs Birling is shown to be submissive towards the gender hierarchy and accepts her lot in life, telling her daughter that she will have to do the same
EDDIE SAYS
Did you choose the second one? This quotation shows a lot about the gender distinction in 1912 when the play is set. In 1912, society was patriarchal and a woman's expected role was to house keep and look after children. The way in which Mrs Birling tells Sheila that when she is married she will 'realise' men's important work and 'have to get used' to it, conveys the way she has submitted to the traditional gender role of the time. In addition to this, she is teaching her daughter that this is what will be expected of her too. In 1945/6 when the play was first performed, gender roles had changed so that women were working in different kinds of jobs. However, much inequality still existed. Depicting the 1912 patriarchal society of the past allows Priestley's 1945/6 audience to see how society has moved forward but also how much still has to happen to achieve more equality between men and women.
  • Question 3

Mr Birling is presented as a capitalist who doesn't believe in social responsibility.

 

What dramatic device does Priestley use to undermine Mr Birling's opinions in the following quotations?

 

Titanic

 

"you'll hear some people say that war's inevitable. And to that I say - fiddlesticks!"

 

"the Titanic - she sails next week ... unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable."

CORRECT ANSWER
Dramatic irony
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot that dramatic irony is used in both of these quotations? Remember that because the audience are watching in 1945/6, they have more knowledge that the characters who are set in the past in 1912 - this is called dramatic irony. Mr Birling believes the war won't happen - Priestley's audience knows that it of course does, and twice! Mr Birling goes on to say that the Titanic is unsinkable - Priestley's audience are well aware that it did indeed sink! Priestley presents Mr Birling's arrogance in the quotations above and through the use of dramatic irony makes his opinions sound like rubbish! And of course, if these opinions are rubbish, so might his other social and political opinions - this is the way in which Priestley undermines Mr Birling's capitalist ideas, suggesting that the Inspector's lesson about social responsibility is more appropriate.
  • Question 4

Priestley uses a simile to show Mr Birling criticising the idea of community and social responsibility

 

"But the way some cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else..."

CORRECT ANSWER
"as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive"
EDDIE SAYS
Did you find this quotation in Act 1? This is an important quotation to show how Mr Birling's capitalist viewpoint completely juxtaposes the Inspector's socialist opinions. This simile shows how Mr Birling is disgusted by the idea of community and believes that everyone should look after themselves. Priestley criticises this viewpoint by showing the consequences of this selfish kind of attitude - Eva's suicide. Remember in the exam to use as much technical terminology such as simile, as possible, to show the examiner you are analysing the writer's craft.
  • Question 5

As well as analysing language devices, for the highest marks in the exam you should also try to explore structural and dramatic devices.

 

Look at the following part of the text from Act 1:

 

'Mr Birling: I've learnt in the good hard school of experience - that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own - and -

(We hear the sharp ring of a front door bell. Birling stops to listen.)' 

 

What is the effect of the action suggested in the stage direction at this point in the play? Choose the most effective analysis below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Priestley places the 'sharp ring' of the doorbell at this point in Mr Birling's speech to interrupt his selfish opinion and to make the audience make a connection between Mr Birling's words here and the Inspector's subsequent interrogation
EDDIE SAYS
This is a tricky one! The second one is the best analysis of structure. It's no coincidence that the doorbell rings and cuts off Mr Birling's speech about the importance of looking after yourself! Priestley deliberately uses the doorbell to interrupt Mr Birling and undermine what he's just said. It also forces the audience to consider why the bell rings at this point - because the Inspector's interrogation is designed to teach Mr Birling and his family a lesson about the consequences of this kind of selfish attitude. Here we're exploring Priestley's use of structural and dramatic devices - try to do this in the exam to impress the examiner!
  • Question 6

When the Inspector arrives, which line spoken by Mr Birling uses symbolism to suggest that the truth is about to be exposed?

 

lamp and an armchair

Write the quotation below, using quotation marks.

CORRECT ANSWER
'Give us some more light'
"Give us some more light"
Give us some more light.
"Give us some more light."
EDDIE SAYS
Another tricky one! Notice how the lighting changes with the arrival of the Inspector. This is part of Priestley's dramatic devices and creates symbolism and added meaning for the audience. Light is often symbolic of truth and honesty so the use of light to accompany the arrival of the Inspector might suggest to the audience that the Inspector is there to uncover the truth.
  • Question 7

Priestley presents Mrs Birling as prejudiced towards Eva and looks down on her as a working-class woman.

 

Which two words would you 'zoom in' on in the following quotation to show Mrs Birling's prejudice:

 

"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money."

CORRECT ANSWER
"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money."
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? The use of the phrase 'that sort' really shows that Mrs Birling looks down on Eva and groups her with a class of people that are distinctly different from her own, much inferior to herself. The phrase "that sort" seems to be used by Mrs Birling to imply a lot about how she feels this type of working-class woman behaves. Priestley shows the strong class divide that existed in Edwardian Britain but also highlights how this type of prejudice is unfounded. Eva is shown to have stronger moral values than the Birlings - she refused Eric's stolen money after all! Priestley uses irony here to once again undermine the Birling's selfish and prejudiced attitudes - Eva is shown to act more morally correct than the Birlings!
  • Question 8

What theme is explored in the following quotation?

 

"We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other."

CORRECT ANSWER
Responsibility
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation is a line spoken by the Inspector. The Inspector represents a socialist viewpoint and attempts to teach the Birlings about the importance of social responsibility - the idea of a community that supports each other. The use of the personal pronoun 'We' is key to the Inspector's argument here - he creates a sense of equality through his use of 'we', which groups everyone together and removes the class divide that the older Birlings are trying to keep strong. This line probably sums up Priestley's message the best - try to learn this one for the exam!
  • Question 9

Match the following quotations to the analytical comment about what they show about each character speaking.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"(looking at them all, triumphant...
Mr Birling is extremely pleased a...
"(decisively): We can settle that...
Gerald seems determined to prove ...
"(smiling): And I must say Gerald...
Mrs Birling is shown to be very p...
"Everything we said had happened ...
Sheila's viewpoint juxtaposes her...
"And I agree with Sheila. It frig...
The impact of the Inspector's les...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? Notice how the younger generation accept responsibility for their actions while Mr Birling and Mrs Birling, representative of the older generation, are more concerned with escaping any blame. Priestley shows that the younger generation were the ones capable of paving the way forward for a more liberal and equal society in 1945/6 - the Inspector's words have frightened Sheila and Eric but have had little impact on Mr and Mrs Birling. In the exam, remember to analyse the stage directions as well as the dialogue. Looking at the connotations of words such as 'triumphantly' to describe Mr Birling's dialogue at this point in the play, for example, helps explore the effect of the dialogue in more depth.
  • Question 10

"So - well - I gather there's a very good chance of a knighthood - so long as we behave ourselves, don't get into the police court or start a scandal - eh? (laughs complacently...)"

 

Write a paragraph analysing the effect of this quotation taken from Act 1 of 'An Inspector Calls'.

 

Try to comment on the writer's craft and link back to the context in which Priestley was writing.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Mr Birling's focus on his "knighthood" in this quotation highlights his self importance and the value he places on his reputation and social status. Priestley employs Mr Birling to represent the selfish attitudes of the upper middle class in Edwardian Britain. Of course, the focus on his "knighthood" is used to impress Gerald here, someone higher in the social hierarchy that Mr Birling, also revealing some insecurity in Mr Birling about his social standing in comparison to Gerald. In addition to this, Priestley creates irony through the reference to a "scandal" which later becomes reality when the Inspector begins to question the Birlings about Eva Smith's death. Indeed the jokey tone created through the use of "eh?" and the stage direction "laughs complacently" foreshadows Mr Birling's downfall. The audience senses that his arrogance and ignorance to his faults will not go unpunished. The way in which Priestley undermines Mr Birling's arrogance enables him to make a wider statement about society, highlighting how a selfish viewpoint and a focus on social standing rather than morality is an aspect of Edwardian society that his audiences should not return to in 1945/6 when society was starting to become more equal and responsible.
Preview ---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.