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Evaluate Key Quotes and Their Impact in 'An Inspector Calls'

In this worksheet, students will evaluate the impact of key quotations by analysing the effect of Priestley's use of language, structure and dramatic devices and considering how quotations reflect the context in which the play was written and set.

'Evaluate Key Quotes and Their Impact in 'An Inspector Calls'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   Eduqas, OCR, Pearson Edexcel, AQA

Curriculum topic:   Post-1914 Prose / Drama, Modern Prose or Drama, Post-1914 Play or Novel, Modern Texts: Drama

Curriculum subtopic:   An Inspector Calls

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Detective on a phone

 

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 and evaluate their impact.

 

The diagram below shows how we can analyse quotations for the highest marks in the exam:

 

'unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable'    arrow   Dramatic Irony  arrow     The audience of 1946 know that actually, the Titanic did sink. Mr Birling's use of 'absolutely' conveys his certainty and a sense of arrogance. arrow     Priestley's intention was to undermine Mr Birling's viewpoint and capitalism which he represents.

 

So, for each quotation you use, think about:

 

- what language and structural techniques have the writer used and what effect do these have?

- how do the quotations reflect something about the key contextual factors surrounding the novel?

 

In this activity, we will practise evaluating the impact of quotations in this way.

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.

What does Priestley suggest about capitalism in the following quotation spoken by Eric?  Which explanation best links the ideas in the plat to the context in which Priestley was writing?

 

'Why shouldn't they try for higher wages? We try for the highest prices.'

 

 

 

Priestley shows how Mr Birling was an effective businessman who was interested in keeping his costs low and his prices high

Priestley intended to depict the corruption of capitalism by highlighting through Eric's questioning of his father how business owners selfishly looked after their own acquisition of wealth by pushing those beneath them further down the social hierarchy

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

 

"When you're married you'll realize 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

What is the effect of the use of dramatic irony in Mr Birling's dialogue below?

 

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."

 

Use the words below to help you complete the passage.

 

untrue

opinions

absolutely

capitalist

Titanic

undermine

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

What techniques has Priestley used in the quotations below?

 

Column A

Column B

"As if we were all mixed up together like bees in ...
Adverb
"Inspector (impressively)"
Fragmented sentence structure
"He moves nearer a light"
Adjective
"And I know I'm to blame - and I'm desperately sor...
Simile
"Horrified"
Light symbolism

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 doorbell. 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 of structure below.

The 'ring' of the doorbell 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 doorbell helps to build more dramatic tension for the audience

What is the effect of the symbolism in the quotation below?

 

'Sheila: What - what did this girl look like?

Inspector: If you'll come over here, I'll show you.

(He moves nearer the light - perhaps standard lamp - and she crosses to him.)'

 

lamp and an armchair

 

Priestley shows how the Inspector manages to take control and has power over the family when he tells Sheila to "come over here"

Priestley use light symbolism to show how the Inspector represents the truth

Priestley uses light symbolism to depict how the Inspector reveals the truth. The way he 'moves nearer the light' indicates that more truth is about to be revealed and the way in which Sheila 'crosses to him', making her close to the light also, portrays the honesty with which she will approach her part of the investigation

Zooming in on individual words in quotations and analysing the writer's language and it's impact, will help you gain the highest marks in the exam.

 

In the play, the stage directions are a great place to look!

 

Match the quotations below to the zoomed-in explanation of their effects below.

 Use of the adverb portays Mrs Birling's arrogance.Use of the adverb suggests Gerald is thinking about how to answer the questionUse of the adverb depicts the Inspector delivering a serious messageUse of the adjective suggests Sheila is genuinely upsetUse of the verb conveys Sheila's anger at the way her parents are acting
"(sternly)...tonight when I was looking at that dead girl."
"(haughtily): I beg your pardon!"
"(distressed): ... and I can't stop thinking about it."
"(hesitantly): ... I didn't feel about her as she felt about me."
"(flaring up): ... its you two who are being childish"

For the highest marks in the exam, you need to choose short quotations to support your ideas and embed these within your sentences.

 

In the example below, a long quotation has been used and it is not embedded in a sentence.

 

At the end of the play, after Mr Birling fails to learn from Inspector Goole's lesson, we see how the announcement of another police inspector worries Mr Birling who thought he had managed to escape the blame. He says 'A police inspector is on his way here - to ask some - questions - (As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls.)'

 

This could be improved by just picking out a word or a few words from the sentence that best illustrate a point. Complete the passage below to show which words could be picked out as shorter, more specific quotations to embed within the sentences.

 

You do not need to use quotation marks in the answer boxes.

 Use of the adverb portays Mrs Birling's arrogance.Use of the adverb suggests Gerald is thinking about how to answer the questionUse of the adverb depicts the Inspector delivering a serious messageUse of the adjective suggests Sheila is genuinely upsetUse of the verb conveys Sheila's anger at the way her parents are acting
"(sternly)...tonight when I was looking at that dead girl."
"(haughtily): I beg your pardon!"
"(distressed): ... and I can't stop thinking about it."
"(hesitantly): ... I didn't feel about her as she felt about me."
"(flaring up): ... its you two who are being childish"

It is now time to have a go at some extended writing, practising analysing quotations.

 

Try to zoom in on key parts of a quotation and explore the connotations of words.

 

Remember for the highest marks, you should try to explore the techniques used by Priestley and evaluate their impact in presenting a character or theme and in reflecting something about the context in which he was writing.

 

The following question is worded to encourage you to write about the techniques used by Priestley.

 

Task: How does Priestley undermine Mr Birling's viewpoint in 'An Inspector Calls'?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

Now have a go at a mini-essay question.

 

Remember for the highest marks, you should try to explore the techniques used by Priestley and evaluate their impact in presenting a character or theme and in reflecting something about the context in which he was writing.

 

Task: How does Priestley explore the idea of social class in 'An Inspector Calls'?

  • Question 1

What does Priestley suggest about capitalism in the following quotation spoken by Eric?  Which explanation best links the ideas in the plat to the context in which Priestley was writing?

 

'Why shouldn't they try for higher wages? We try for the highest prices.'

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Priestley intended to depict the corruption of capitalism by highlighting through Eric's questioning of his father how business owners selfishly looked after their own acquisition of wealth by pushing those beneath them further down the social hierarchy
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? For the highest marks in the exam, it's important to talk about the ideas in the play alongside the key contextual factors. Whilst the first explanation is true, there's no link to context. Try to think of the characters and themes as tools that Priestley uses to present something about the real life society he saw around him. Priestley depicted the capitalist society in 1912 through the characterisation of Mr Birling as a warning of what society could return to in 1945/6 if people weren't careful. The way in which his children question his business decisions helps to highlight the corruption and immoral nature of these capitalist values.
  • Question 2

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

 

"When you're married you'll realize 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 keep the house and look after children. The way in which Mrs Birling tells Sheila that when she is married she will 'realise' about 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 as well. 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

What is the effect of the use of dramatic irony in Mr Birling's dialogue below?

 

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."

 

Use the words below to help you complete the passage.

 

untrue

opinions

absolutely

capitalist

Titanic

undermine

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill all of the spaces? Remember that because the audience are watching in 1945/6, they have more knowledge than 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 this 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

What techniques has Priestley used in the quotations below?

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"As if we were all mixed up toget...
Simile
"Inspector (impressively)"
Adverb
"He moves nearer a light"
Light symbolism
"And I know I'm to blame - and I'...
Fragmented sentence structure
"Horrified"
Adjective
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all? Remember for the highest marks in the exam you need to try to use as much technical vocabulary to analyse the writer's craft as possible. When you have built your quotation bank, try to identify all of the different language and structural techniques in the quotation that you could zoom in on. Then consider the effect of these techniques - what do they show us about a character, a theme and the context in which Priestley was writing?
  • 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 doorbell. 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 of structure 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 has just said. It also forces the audience to consider why the bell rings at this point - because the Inspector's interrogation is 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!
  • Question 6

What is the effect of the symbolism in the quotation below?

 

'Sheila: What - what did this girl look like?

Inspector: If you'll come over here, I'll show you.

(He moves nearer the light - perhaps standard lamp - and she crosses to him.)'

 

lamp and an armchair

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Priestley uses light symbolism to depict how the Inspector reveals the truth. The way he 'moves nearer the light' indicates that more truth is about to be revealed and the way in which Sheila 'crosses to him', making her close to the light also, portrays the honesty with which she will approach her part of the investigation
EDDIE SAYS
This is a tricky one! All of the comments above are true but the last explanation is the most effective evaluation of the effect of the light symbolism - notice how different parts of the quotation have been zoomed in on and analysed more closely. Priestley often highlights the use of lighting in conjunction with the Inspector's characterisation. Light is often symbolic of truth and honesty so the use of light to accompany the Inspector shows how he will draw light on the characters' actions. Interestingly in this quotation, Sheila moves towards the light also, showing how she will accept her part in this investigation honestly.
  • Question 7

Zooming in on individual words in quotations and analysing the writer's language and it's impact, will help you gain the highest marks in the exam.

 

In the play, the stage directions are a great place to look!

 

Match the quotations below to the zoomed-in explanation of their effects below.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Use of the adverb portays Mrs Birling's arrogance.Use of the adverb suggests Gerald is thinking about how to answer the questionUse of the adverb depicts the Inspector delivering a serious messageUse of the adjective suggests Sheila is genuinely upsetUse of the verb conveys Sheila's anger at the way her parents are acting
"(sternly)...tonight when I was looking at that dead girl."
"(haughtily): I beg your pardon!"
"(distressed): ... and I can't stop thinking about it."
"(hesitantly): ... I didn't feel about her as she felt about me."
"(flaring up): ... its you two who are being childish"
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? So much is revealed through the stage directions! Try to zoom in on individual words, use the correct technical terminology to describe them and evaluate their effect - what do they show the audience? This will help you to impress the examiner!
  • Question 8

For the highest marks in the exam, you need to choose short quotations to support your ideas and embed these within your sentences.

 

In the example below, a long quotation has been used and it is not embedded in a sentence.

 

At the end of the play, after Mr Birling fails to learn from Inspector Goole's lesson, we see how the announcement of another police inspector worries Mr Birling who thought he had managed to escape the blame. He says 'A police inspector is on his way here - to ask some - questions - (As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls.)'

 

This could be improved by just picking out a word or a few words from the sentence that best illustrate a point. Complete the passage below to show which words could be picked out as shorter, more specific quotations to embed within the sentences.

 

You do not need to use quotation marks in the answer boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? This is a higher level skill and if you can master this, your exam responses will achieve much higher marks. Remember to zoom in on the parts of the quotations that really matter and leave the unnecessary parts out - your points will then be much better evidenced. Embedding these shorter quotations within your sentences will also create a more fluent and sophisticated writing style that will impress the examiners for the higher marks!
  • Question 9

It is now time to have a go at some extended writing, practising analysing quotations.

 

Try to zoom in on key parts of a quotation and explore the connotations of words.

 

Remember for the highest marks, you should try to explore the techniques used by Priestley and evaluate their impact in presenting a character or theme and in reflecting something about the context in which he was writing.

 

The following question is worded to encourage you to write about the techniques used by Priestley.

 

Task: How does Priestley undermine Mr Birling's viewpoint in 'An Inspector Calls'?

 

Try to write two paragraphs.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Priestley uses dramatic irony to highlight how ridiculous Mr Birling's opinions are. Priestley shows Mr Birling's arrogance when he says 'I'm talking as a hard- headed, practical man of business.' but undermines this arrogances and makes a mockery of it when Mr Birling goes onto say 'there isn't a chance of war.' The dramatic irony for Priestley's audience comes from their knowledge in 1945/6 that two wars followed this comment, making Mr Birling's comments sound ridiculous. The way in which Priestley undermines Mr Birling's opinions through the use of dramatic irony, forces the audience to question all of Mr Birling's viewpoints, including his capitalist views. In this way Priestley promotes an alternative viewpoint to Mr Birlings, one of socialism.
  • Question 10

Now have a go at a mini-essay question.

 

Remember for the highest marks, you should try to explore the techniques used by Priestley and evaluate their impact in presenting a character or theme and in reflecting something about the context in which he was writing.

 

Task: How does Priestley explore the idea of social class in 'An Inspector Calls'?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A paragraph might look something like this: Priestley intended to show that the actions of the upper and middle classes had a significant impact on those lower in the social hierarchy. Priestley is particularly critical of the immoral way in which the upper-middle classes use their influence to benefit themselves with little thought about the effect of their actions which the Inspector calls a 'chain of events'. The Inspector clarifies that Sheila used her 'power' to 'punish the girl' for seemingly laughing at her in the shop. Sheila's response shows that she was ignorant at the time to the effect of her actions when she says 'it didn't seem very terrible at the time..'. Priestley uses the adverb 'harshly' to describe the Inspector's response which uses short, sharp sentences to deliver the brutal message that 'It's too late. She's dead.' This very explicitly explains the effect of Sheila's selfish action. Priestley wanted to promote a socialist viewpoint by depicting the idea of shared responsibility through a tragic story. By setting the play in 1912, he warns his 1945/6 audience about the selfishness of the capitalist Edwardian society and what society could return to if people do not take their social responsibility seriously.
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