Priestley’s play

I have chosen to focus on Mrs.Birling and Eva Smith for my scene. I believe that these two characters have an important role in the play. This is because, although all the other characters have some part in the build up to Eva’s suicide, Mrs.Birling was Eva’s final hope and without the charity organisation Eva had nowhere else to go.¬†Mrs.Birling’s house is the setting I have chosen for my scene.

I wanted to have this as my setting because it makes Mrs.Birling feel proud and powerful because the charity organisation is in her own house therefore giving her a sense of pride. All of the events happening in the play are set in the house and even when the house seems to be very comfortable and reflects on the Birling family’s prosperity, it is still the main location where all the unfortunate events and misfortune of the Birling family take place. This is why I have also chosen Mrs.Birling’s house to be the setting for my scene as it is a grim setting where miserable events take place both to the Birling family and in my scene, Eva Smith.

I have represented Mrs.Birling in the same way as Priestley has presented her in the play. Through the stage directions of Mrs.Birling, you can see that she has the same character and personality as she does in the play. An example of this in my own play is in the stage direction, ‘looking furious’ and ‘sounding rather relaxed and proud that she is hosting this meeting’. From the first stage direction you can see that Mrs.Birling is once again sounding angry and impatient, as she appears to be in the play. My second stage direction shows Mrs.Birling to be relaxed and proud which is a common characteristic you will find in Mrs.Birling in the play.

In the actual play, Priestley uses “… are pleased with themselves” in the very first stage direction at the beginning of the play to suggest that everyone, including Mrs.Birling is happy with themselves. This is describing all of the characters and so it also includes Mrs.Birling aswell, whose character is similar to what has been said in this stage direction. Another place where Mrs.Birling’s proud attitude is shown in the play is when it says, “….so I used my influence to have it refused”. This is said when Mrs.Birling is explaining to the Inspector why she refused Eva’s claim. From here you can see that Mrs.Birling is showing herself off by talking about her influence and therefore, how much power she proclaims to have.

Eva is presented in my scene to be scared and helpless. I have changed Eva Smith in my own scene as when she is going to Mrs.Birling, it is her last opportunity and hope so, in my opinion, she would not be as strong and brave as she would have back at the very beginning in Mr.Birling’s factory. I have represented her as lonely and struggling to survive. She uses every opportunity she gets in order to survive. I have represented her in the same way as Mrs.Birling describes her when recalling her memory to the inspector. I have shown this in the stage direction when it says, ‘she appears to be very shaky and has slight tears under her eyes’.

This gives a general example of how Eva would look like in real life from this stage direction and the situation which Eva is in. Sheila makes Eva appear to be a hero, praising her and is always taking favour of her due to her firm belief that whatever her father had done was wrong. This is spoken in the play when Sheila says, “… and don’t let’s start dodging and pretending now. Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide. Sheila is guilty of her actions, admits to her actions and has learnt a lesson, unlike her parents.

Mrs.Birling is presented in the play to be selfish, heartless and a wicked woman. This is shown in the play when she refuses to help Eva when she comes to her charity organisation for help. She does not care about anyone else but herself. She does not care about any consequences to any other character in the play as long as she is happy about herself. This is shown in the play when Mrs.Birling says to the Inspector, “… I accept no blame for it at all”.

This is after Mrs.Birling has refused to help Eva when she came for help through the organisation. From here you can see how horrible Mrs.Birling is. Another place in the play where you can see how vile Mrs.Birling is when she says to the Inspector, “Unlike the other three, I did nothing I’m ashamed of or that won’t bear investigation”. From here you can see that Mrs.Birling does not care about any of the consequences following Eva’s death and is not ashamed. This is also shown in the play when the Birling family is relieved that the inspector who came at their house was not a real inspector and that they were not in trouble.

Mrs.Birling says in Act three, “I was the only one of you who didn’t give into him. And now I say we must discuss this business quietly and sensibly and decide if there’s anything to be done about it”. A few lines later Eric, Mr and Mrs.Birling’s son says, “…. You’re beginning to pretend now that nothing’s really happened at all. And I can’t see it like that. The girl’s still dead, isn’t she? Nobody’s brought her to life, have they?” From here you can see that Eric has learnt a lesson from what has happened to him. However, on the other hand, Mrs.Birling is telling the family to keep quiet and not tell anyone else. Here Mrs.Birling is trying to save her reputation since she is already very proud of herself and is seen to be a respectable woman in society.

Eva Smith is represented as a young, working class woman who was vulnerable and innocent. She is the main centre of attention throughout the play, with other characters stories revolving around her. She is used and abused by every character in the play and is never seen to be as equal as everyone else. However, against all the odds, Eva is still a strong and confident woman who is willing to stand up for herself. This is shown in the play in Act 1 when Mr.Birling says, ‘… and this girl, Eva Smith, was one of them. She’d had a lot to say-far too much-so she had to go’. This is said when Mr.Birling is telling the Inspector his story on when he fired Eva. From his speech you can see that Eva Smith was the main leader in the group of women who went on a strike against Mr.Birling and his factory.

A place where my scene hasn’t worked and looks slightly inaccurate is when Mrs.Birling says, ‘… make it snappy, I need a rest’. This may be unrealistic and too informal for people to say in 1912. The word ‘snappy’ was probably not used during 1912 and is used more commonly today. This is where I have made a mistake in the context of the scene I have written.¬†Another place in my playscript where I believe I have made a mistake in not giving much detail is the staging. I have not given much information and so if I were to give this to the reader, he/she may find it hard to imagine how the set would look like and therefore may have to make his/her own set.

In conclusion, I think that my scene is effective and fits in well with Priestley’s writing style. You cannot tell much difference between my scene and the Priestley’s play. I have used the right language for fitting in well with the period of time in which the play was set and have not modernised it, although I have done it one time of which I have notified the reader/ producer. I have used similar props aswell to do this. If I were to redraft it again, I would improve on my staging and details for my stage. Also I would make sure that I will only be using appropriate words for my playscript so I will not make the play have an inaccurate context.

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