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

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In the opening stage directions, what does the reader learn about each of the characters present in act 1 of An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley?    

In the opening stage directions in An Inspector Calls, the reader learns that the main characters are wealthy. Mr. Arthur Birling is a successful business owner. His wife, who has a cold personality, is his social superior. His son, Eric, is somewhat socially awkward, half shy and half assertive. His daughter, Sheila, is enthusiastic and pleased with life. Her betrothed, Gerald Croft, is a socially polished and well-connected gentleman with money.

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In general, the reader learns that all of the main characters are well-to-do. The Birlings have a comfortable suburban home with a large dining room. A maid is clearing away dessert and champagne and bringing out port, a cigar box, and cigarettes. We learn that Mr. Arthur Birling is a successful businessman. The family is in evening dress, the men in tails and white ties. All of these details suggest that the family has a substantial amount of disposable income and can live to upper class standards. However, although wealthy, they would be called middle-class in Edwardian England because they are not part of the aristocracy.

The home is comfortably furnished. Some class tensions are suggested by Mr. Birling being in trade—a manufacturer—and having a "provincial" accent, indicating he is not from one of the prestigious home counties. This implies he might be a self-made man rather than having the pedigree to have inherited wealth. This idea is reinforced when we learn that Mrs....

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