An Inspector Calls 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 I of An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley?    

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Laurine Herzog eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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From the opening stage directions we can infer that the Birling family are reasonably wealthy. The furniture, for example, is described as "good solid furniture of the period," and there is a fireplace with "two leather armchairs on either side." However, we are also told that the "general effect" is "not cozy and homelike," implying that this is perhaps not an especially happy or spirited family but instead a rather formal and conservative one.

As for the individual characters, the opening stage directions offer some clues as to their personalities. Arthur Birling is described as "a heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle-fifties." From this description, we might infer that he is a rather imposing man, who, as the word "portentous" suggests, may be a little pompous and solemn. His voice is described as "provincial," which implies that he was not born into an upper-class family.

Arthur's wife, who is not named in the stage directions, is described as "a rather cold woman" and...

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