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An Inspector Calls

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How does Priestley make Act 1 tense, dramatic and interesting? J.B.Priestley's play: 'An Inspector Calls' is extremely tense, dramatic and interesting. Priestley makes his play this good by using a very wide array of clever techniques. These include: dramatic irony, snide comments and a true understanding of the people he has based the play on. During this piece of writing I shall be evaluating these techniques as well as giving a brief insight as to what actually happens in Act 1. It is hoped that by the end of this essay that the reader will have a better understanding of the wide variety of techniques Priestley uses and simply a better understanding of the Act in general. One example of these techniques is stage directions. Priestley uses them time and time again to a fantastic effect. The initial stage directions are critical to the play as without them the characters may have came out very different. For example they could turn out to have very different opinions on things such as Mrs.Birling liking Inspector Goole. Before the audience had even bought the tickets for their seats Priestley had given a huge amount of stage directions. He wanted each and every aspect of the play to be perfect, to be exactly how he wanted it. Priestley gets everything precisely how he wants it by not leaving anything to the imagination. One example of just how precise he wants everything is: 'Edna, the parlourmaid, is just clearing the table, which has no cloth'. ...read more.


For example: he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'. This shows just how much of an impact the inspector has when he enters the room. It also sets the tone for the inspector as he is like this for the rest of the play. This raises the tension, drama and audiences interest more than anything else so far in the play. The audience now know just how important the inspector is. The tension, drama and level of interest rises even more when the inspector begins to question Birling. As the inspector questions Birling, the play becomes extremely tense. Birling, at first, is very cool about the whole thing. He is adamant that he is one hundred percent innocent and seems to know it. However, as the inspector continues to question Birling he begins to utter more names and places. Upon hearing these Birling's coolness slowly declines until he is actually quite worried. The mood of the play compliments Birlings mood fantastically here. One example of how nervous Birling becomes is 'moves restlessly, then turns'. This quotation shows just how uncomfortable Birling is with the situation. It also shows that he is probably guilty and that is why he's so restless. This, I believe, is the most tense and exciting scene in the entire act. The audience learns a great deal, such as the inspector's interrogation techniques and that Birling is guilty. ...read more.


Furthermore, the setting of a very quaint, country house, with a very cold, 'un-family-like' feeling is perfect and sets the tone superbly for the play. Early on we also get a few very discrete clues as to what might happen in the latter stages of the play. We also learn a great deal about each of the characters. Arthur Birling is very self-righteous and also, despite his wealth, gives himself away as being quite a fool. Sybil Birling is very cold and uncaring; she doesn't tend to worry herself over the circumstances. Sheila Birling is very light hearted and quiet, she remains this way until she is personally questioned. This seems to change her character almost completely. Eric Birling is quite drunk during the play, so we cannot be sure what his character is actually like. He does however seem to be very self conscious and this is presumably something to do with the death of Eva. Gerald Croft is much like Sheila. He is very jolly until he is confronted by the inspector. However, the audience see him talking business with Birling. This shows that he may have ulterior motives for marrying Sheila. The inspector is extremely stern and intimidating. He is furious that Eva Smith has died and so is taking it all very seriously. In my opinion there is a fantastic variation of characters in Act 1 and they, coupled with the setting and structure of the play, create a mood that sticks for its entirety. By Daniel Henry 10 JF1 ...read more.

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