An Inspector Calls - Setting
How much do you know about setting in a play? Find out in this quiz.

An Inspector Calls - Setting

This GCSE English Literature quiz looks at the setting in An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley.

The setting of a work of fiction includes the location where the events take place as well as the time. Context, such as any events occurring in the background of the text’s wider fictional world, is also a key component of its setting. Although more nebulous, atmosphere also plays an important role in establishing setting.

It is vital to understand the setting of any text you study. The context, or the world in which the characters live, impacts the decisions which they make over the course of the plot. This includes any political or social events which might affect the characters.

In An Inspector Calls, social unrest, both local and international, fundamentally alters Mr Birling’s perceptions of events, which in turn dramatically affects Eva Smith’s own life. The experience of gender and class, too, depends entirely on the time in which this play is set.

Geographical setting includes several aspects. Do all the events occur in the same place? Do characters travel, or arrive from elsewhere? If the action is contained within a single building, or room, how does that alter the meaning of the text?

It can also be useful to think about when the text is set and if that differs from the time it is written. Find out why an author might choose to set a text in the future, or one hundred years ago. How does this change our understanding of the story?

Read the questions below to see how well you understand the setting of An Inspector Calls.

Why is this date significant?
The First World War has just ended
The First World War will begin in two years
The Second World War has just ended
The Second World War has just begun
The audience knows, although the Birlings do not, that war looms on the horizon for Britain
Which of the following is true of Brumley?
It is an industrial city
It is a small, pleasant village
It is a suburb of London
It is a small market town
The fictional 'Brumley' is introduced as an industrial city
The set furniture should be 'good', 'solid' and 'of the period', appropriate to a prosperous man such as Mr Birling. What effect is this furniture intended to create?
That of a substantial and comfortable home
That of a cosy and homelike place
That of a cold and severe institution
That of an orderly court of law
The introduction to Act One specifies that the dining room should not feel cosy and homelike
Over what time period do the events of the play take place?
One month
One year
One evening
One decade
Although the characters discuss the events of Eva's life, which take place over a longer period of time, the action of the play takes place in a single evening, over three continuous Acts
Where does the action take place?
In the local police department
In Mr Birling's warehouse
In Eva Smith's bedsit
In the Birlings' house
All three Acts take place in the dining room of the Birlings' home, although various characters enter and exit the stage during the play
An Inspector Calls is set in which country?
United States of America
Great Britain
The play is set in Brumley, a fictional city in the North Midlands
The play is set during which year?
Although the play was first performed in the 1940s (it appeared on stage at the New Theatre in 1946), it is set in 1912
Which of the following is responsible for the tension evident in the opening scene?
A conflict of ideas between the young and the old
An anxiety over class differences
Anxiety over socialism
All of the above
These tensions are apparent in the lecture Mr Birling gives to the younger members of the gathering, setting up many of the important themes of the play
Mr Birling comments, "Now you three young people, just listen to this - and remember what I'm telling you now. In twenty or thirty years' time - let's say, in 1940 - you may be giving a little party like this - your son or daughter might be getting engaged - and I tell you by that time you'll be living in a world that'll have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour agitations and all these silly little war scares." In terms of setting, what is significant about Mr Birling's remarks?
His comments bring together the setting of the play with the first audience's knowledge of recent events
His comments demonstrate his fatherly wisdom
His remarks are only important because they demonstrate his inability to see into the future
His remarks are not relevant to the setting of the play
Mr Birling's inaccurate view of the future draws the audience into the events of the play while reminding them that its lessons are as relevant to a 1940s audience as they are to the fictional Birling family
Which of the following best describes the mood at the beginning of the play?
The family are busy celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald when the Inspector arrives
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - An Inspector Calls

Author:  Sheri Smith

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