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2 years ago
English tutor with a BA in English Literature & Creative Writing.
This quote symbolises Mr. Birling's opinions regarding war and the supposed "inevitability" of it. He, in fact, does not exactly believe this statement to be true, which is apparent by his expression of 'fiddlesticks!"
Friendly Literature and Language tutor experienced in Edexcel and AQA
The quote presents Mr Birlings' attitudes regarding war and how he believes that it is very unlikely to occur. As the play is set in 1912 and officially published in 1945, the use of dramatic irony allows the audience to reflect on both WW1 and WW1. This would spark many reactions from the audience, many people would come to conclusion from this that Mr Birling is an ignorant old man who is only interested in supporting capitalist ideologies and strengthening his business.
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The adjective "inevitable" symbolizes the direct ignorance Mr Birling has for society and in turn, acts as dramatic irony. The audience of this time period are aware of the inaccuracy of Mr Birling's views and so Priestly utilizes this effect to present him as an unreliable character. As Mr Birling is a direct caricature of a capitalist man in the Edwardian era Priestly presents all capitalist views as ignorant and unreliable. Furthermore, perhaps the verb "hear" is used to act as a direct juxtaposition because Mr Birling only hears political ordeals in society and disregards the problems. Therefore this acts as juxtaposition as Birling aims for his family to hear him when he sometimes purposefully doesn't "hear" the poor. So, Priestley uses this symbolism to criticize the complacency of capitalism in order to promote his socialist views.
Qualified secondary English Teacher, with experience of teaching KS3/4
The quotation highlights Mr Hurling’s ignorance and unwavering self-belief in himself and others like him. He believes that what he says is correct because he’s a ‘hard-headed man of business’. However, underneath, there could be a sense of self doubt as he, himself, was born into a working class family so may feel that he constantly has to promote himself due to a sense of inferiority in comparison to his wife and Gerald.
You can also make a structural point at this point- as this, as well as the infamous Titanic quote, appears at the beginning of the play, as an audience we immediately disregard anything that Mr Birling has to say as we know that what he’s said isn’t true.
AQA English Language Examiner, English Lit, Lang & Grammar specialist
One of the most important pieces of evidence for Mr Birling, it symbolises his ignorance and capitalistic nature during the time period. The play was written in 1945 once both wars were over, women had more rights and the welfare system was in place, as well as the NHS, however it was set during the 1912 when no war had taken place and women had no rights - therefore a patriarchal society. Mr Birling believed war would never happen; ironically it took place two years later (1914) which is an example of dramatic irony as we the audience know the truth. Priestley is a socialist and used Birling to present the would have been 1912 capitalistic views through Birling. When it comes to the audience we would be shocked to see such a view. Priestley is making sure no one in the audience goes back to these capitalistic views.
Birling also uses this speech to voice his views, but to also get one above his family. He was from the middle class and his wife the upper class. In order to “fit in” he has to promote these capitalistic views.
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