EXAM PREPARATION and REVISION
This page provides notes for answering the standard essay question, which asks ‘What does the author do?’ and ‘How does s/he do it?’ The page deals with the specific exam criteria for drama texts, which expect you to show that they are different from other genres.
A TYPICAL EXAM QUESTION ON PURPOSE:
What do you think Priestley wished to achieve in ‘An Inspector Calls’ and how does he present his ideas?
YOU MIGHT CONSIDER:
The exploration of characters and themes:
- Characters’ distinguishing features e.g. Sheila is, initially, jealous and spiteful; Gerald is untrustworthy; Eric is unstable; Mrs Birling is proud; Birling is opinionated and self satisfied. Remember Eva!
- Political/social perspective e.g. criticism of ambitious self-made men and their views, as expressed by Birling
- Religious message ‘of one body’, collective responsibility and duty to all humanity.
- Abuse of power and influence
Presentation: (i.e. the ‘How does he write?’) of dramatic devices, language use, elements of structure and the play’s form
- Humour, including satire, irony and dramatic irony
- Viewpoints on themes expressed by different characters
- Contrast between characters and generations e.g. their confessions and denials
- The blurring of real/unreal e.g. one girl or many, the nature of the inspector
- The confusing elements of time and particular events in the last Act e.g. the final telephone call
- Creation of tension e.g. Mrs Birling blaming the father
- Entrances, exits, use of props, stage directions
- Words/phrases/ideas re-occurring (i.e. becoming motifs) and being given a different perspective
- The audience to considers its own attitude towards the working and middle classes, entrepreneurs and gender issues
- Identifies pride and selfishness as being the cause of the world’s problems
- Concludes with the continuing plight of the oppressed, as shown in the actual death of a young woman
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