An Inspector Calls Questions and Answers
by J. B. Priestley

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From the initial stage directions, how do we know that the Birlings have an affluent lifestyle?

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The play opens in the dining room of the Birlings's home, which the initial stage directions explain belongs to "a prosperous family." When performed on stage, the audience, of course, will not have the benefit of this stage direction, but the director of the play will be left in no doubt that the opening scene should clearly indicate the affluence of the family. This affluence is, after all, vital to one of the play's main moral messages, which, broadly, is that the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is not conducive to a fair or moral society for the many.

The initial stage directions offer several ways in which the affluence of the Birling family might be indicated to an audience. The furniture, for example, should be "a good solid furniture of the period," and on the dining room table, there should be "champagne glasses" and a "decanter of port." The characters are also described as wearing "evening dress," with the men "in tails and white ties." These are not the clothes...

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