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'After closely reading the opening scene explain how the audience is prepared for the rest of the play. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'

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Introduction

'After closely reading the opening scene explain how the audience is prepared for the rest of the play.' Priestley uses 'An Inspector Calls' to show people the importance of community and the fact that we are all responsible for one another. In the opening of the play, the audience is prepared for the inspector's entrance by a series of clues and hints. Priestley's most obvious technique for this is his use of dramatic irony, particularly in Birling's speeches, and also his precise use of stage directions to show the audience his intentions behind what is being said and done. Moreover, he uses characters and their relationships to one another to show the differences between how they would like to be seen and how they really are. Lastly, the order in which events happen, especially Birling's final speech before the inspector arrives, is of great significance. In the opening scene, the family is having a small dinner for Sheila's engagement to Gerald. Mrs Birling immediately establishes her role in the family by correcting Birling for boasting about the dinner in front of Gerald, 'Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things-'. ...read more.

Middle

Here Sheila reveals to Eric and the inspector that Eva Smith had spoken to Mrs Birling before she died. Moreover, Birling is more interested in what Sheila's marriage to Gerald will do for his businesses than her happiness, 'Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time...Now you've brought us together.' This gives the audience the notion that Birling cares more about profit than his children, reducing the audiences' respect for him. Eric makes a toast to Gerald and Sheila and says Sheila, has a temper but is not bad really; also, the stage directions imply that he is drunk 'rather noisily'. This comment made by Eric hints to the audience that Sheila can do things out of anger but she isn't a bad person. This prepares the audience for when the inspector arrives because Sheila is the first one to realise he knows everything that happened, so Sheila rises to the moral challenge of being open about it all. After Eric's unwanted toast, Birling leads a discussion about the country's future. Although Sheila is present during this discussion she is engrossed in looking at the engagement ring Gerald gave her. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this speech he talks about how a man should look after himself and his family and not be concerned with other people, '...a man has to make his own way- has to look after himself and his family too...' He also talks about how community and people being mixed up like bees in a hive is all nonsense, but, due to Priestly's portrayal of Birling, we know he is wrong. This speech by Birling is in direct contrast to the inspector's final speech, which says that we are all responsible for one another: 'We are members of one body.' and 'We are responsible for each other'. The difference between Birling's final speech and the inspector's is that Birling's speech seems to be his opinion '...take my word for it'. Where as the inspector's speech seems to be fact 'We are' 'Will be.' These words the inspector uses suggest he knows for sure that what he is saying is true, unlike Birling. This is what Priestley prepares the audience for, so we have no choice but to agree with the Inspector or we will be taught it in 'fire, blood and anguish'. By Debo Amon ...read more.

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