An Inspector Calls · AQA · For Pupils · literature · Reading skills · Teaching Ideas

Writing a critical paragraph – An Inspector Calls

This is the question: How important is Eva Smith to the play?

For your homework, I asked you to write a couple of paragraphs in response to this question. Below is the paragraph that we did in class with the breakdown:

  1. Firstly, you need a strong opening sentence which signals to the examiner what your paragraph will be about. It’s good to make reference to the writer (Priestley) and be explicit about answering the question.Notice this opening sentence also addresses some AO3 – we’ve said a lot about beginning your paragraph with an AO3 comment – it signals to the examiner that you’re able to see the wider picture.

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men at the time.

2. You then need to back this up with a reference to the text

  • Where is Eva exploited by men?
  • Think of a good example from the text; try and remember a key word or phrase

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men at the time. Eric remarks on her physical appearance: she was ‘pretty’ and his comment that she was a ‘good sport’ implies that Eric feels that Eva was willing to have sex with him.

3. Now you need to EXPLAIN what these examples reveal about

  • The men who exploit Eva
  • Eva’s role in the play or her place in society
  • Can you link to a theme/message?

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men at the time. Eric remarks on her physical appearance: she was ‘pretty’ and his comment that she was a ‘good sport’ implies that Eric feels that Eva was willing to have sex with him. Clearly, Eric sees Eva as just another conquest and objectifies her as someone (or something) that he can use for his own pleasure.

4. At this point, you might explore the point in more detail

  • Perhaps zoom in on a method used by Priestley
  • Zoom in on a word or phrase
  • Or you could add another example to support your point

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men at the time. Eric remarks on her physical appearance: she was ‘pretty’ and his comment that she was a ‘good sport’ implies that Eric feels that Eva was willing to have sex with him. Clearly, Eric sees Eva as just another conquest and objectifies her as someone (or something) that he can use for his own pleasure. However, ‘good sport’ links to hunting which suggests that Eric is a predator and Eva his prey. Clearly, Eric, with his privilege, is used to getting his own way and Priestley wants us to see that for Eric, Eva is something to satisfy his own desires: he merely takes advantage of Eva’s misfortune.

5. Now you can DEVELOP your ideas in a little more detail

  • What does this example you’ve used tell us about Priestley’s message
  • Is there anything else you can add which develops your analysis/understanding?

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men at the time. Eric remarks on her physical appearance: she was ‘pretty’ and his comment that she was a ‘good sport’ implies that Eric feels that Eva was willing to have sex with him. Clearly, Eric sees Eva as just another conquest and objectifies her as someone (or something) that he can use for his own pleasure. However, ‘good sport’ links to hunting which suggests that Eric is a predator and Eva his prey.Clearly, Eric, with his privilege, is used to getting his own way and Priestley wants us to see that for Eric, Eva is something to satisfy his own desires: he merely takes advantage of Eva’s misfortune. There is also more than a suggestion of violence when he admits that he got to a point where ‘a chap turns nasty’ – Priestley implies that Eric forced himself on to Eva and thus there is a clear suggestion of rape.

6. Finally, complete your paragraph with a comment that links the point you’re making to the play’s themes, ideas or wider context.

Through the character of Eva Smith, Priestley is trying to show how women were exploited by men. Eric remarks on her physical appearance: she was ‘pretty’ and his comment that she was a ‘good sport’ implies that Eric feels that Eva was willing to have sex with him. Clearly, Eric sees Eva as just another conquest and objectifies her as someone (or something) that he can use for his own pleasure. However, ‘good sport’ links to hunting which suggests that Eric is a predator and Eva his prey. Clearly, Eric, with his privilege, is used to getting his own way and Priestley wants us to see that for Eric Eva is something to satisfy his own desires, merely taking advantage of Eva’s misfortune. There is also more than a suggestion of violence when he admits that he got to a point where ‘a chap turns nasty’ – Priestley implies that Eric forced himself on to Eva and thus there is a clear suggestion of rape.Through this incident, Priestley reinforces Eric’s – and the Birlings’ – exploitation of their own position in society, and is a symbol of the socially and morally irresponsible behaviour of the Birlings and others of their social status.

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