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  • 7/2/2004

An Inspector Calls (Heinemann Plays S.) 

J.B. Priestley

The "Heinemann Plays" series offers contemporary drama and classic plays in durable classroom editions. Many have large casts and an equal mix of boy and girl parts. In this play an inspector interrupts a party to investigate a girl's suicide, and implicates each of the party-makers in her death.

It's the beginning of the 20th century and the story takes place in a wealthy family's house.

The story is about the wealthy people's degrading behavior against poor people.

The Birling family are having dinner and discussing Sheila's engagement when a police man arrives. He tells them that Eva Smith is dead, she had taken suicide. The police man begins to ask each of one of them about their relationship to Eva Smith. It indicates that everyone one of them had something going on with Eva Smith. The father who got her sacked, the daughter who got her sacked from her second job, the son who shagged her when she becomes prostitute after a while without a job. And the mother who refused to help her.

Mr. Birling Regards himself as reasonable and pays the going rate to employees. Unable to grasp link between actions and consequences, or wider social/world issues. No concepts of value other than money and position. Proud of his status and is a social climber. Sees him & wife as upholding 'right' values and as guardians of 'proper' conduct.

Mrs. Birling Even more hard-faced and arrogant than her husband. Introduced as her husband's social superior. Is very snobbish, conscious of and uses social position to try and intimidate. She expects other to respect her, her opinions and defer to her. Resents being contradicted, even when caught lying by the inspector.

Sheila Impressionable - willing to accept new ideas/concepts Affected by the Inspector's revelations about family and society. She and Eric are the only cause for optimism in the play (they change in attitude). She has an honest and attractive character. She is not cold-blooded like her parents are.

Mr. Birling is the opposite of a communist; he means that you should take care of your own.

A Streetcar Named Desire 

Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire is a tragic, poignant and beautiful play written by the famous American playwright Tennenessee Williams. The play is set in New Orleans and revolves around the central character Blanche Dubois who is an insecure, once rich, romantic, fading southern belle. She visits her sister Stella, who has married Stanley, a crude immigrant, a total contrast in temperament and class, who immensely dislikes Blanche. As the play unfolds it is apparent that Blanche's past is not exactly what it seems and the play snowballs to a tragic climax. The vivid language and suggested music that is used in this play is what makes the action so intense and the story so gripping. The central characters are all so different and well drawn, each having different weaknesses and strengths that make them both likable and dislikable. The reader's sympathy must lie with Blanche as it becomes apparent that despite all her coquettish boasting she is a victim of society's expectations. Her desperation to find love again to forget a tragic past and her insecurities about growing old are very human emotions and make her a heroine to be empathized with. I find this play extremely moving but also enjoy the pace and drama of the play. Williams creates an atmosphere and characters that are disturbingly real on the page. This I feel is Williams's finest play and I would recommend it to anyone.

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