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'An Inspector Calls' is a play which relies on an element of surprise, keeping the audience, as well as the Birlings unaware of the inspector's true identity. How does Priestley use his dramatic art to achieve this?

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'An Inspector Calls' is a play which relies on an element of surprise, keeping the audience, as well as the Birlings unaware of the inspector's true identity. How does Priestley use his dramatic art to achieve this? It is also set in a particular period in history. Does this detract from its impact today? 'An Inspector Calls' was written by J.B. Priestley in 1945. The play is about a mysterious inspector who arrives at the Birling household on the evening of particular merriment, their only daughter, Sheila, is getting engaged to Gerald Croft. The inspector has come to tell them about a girl that has died in the infirmary that evening. The girl in question had drunk some strong disinfectant and died. Her death was suspicious and the inspector has come to ask questions to the Birlings and Gerald to establish the reason for her suicide because each person at the dinner party played a part in the death of this girl. The play is set in the fictional town of Brumley, an industrial town in the North Midlands. The year is 1912 and this by itself creates tension and dramatic irony. Mr. Birling goes to pains to tell Gerald and Eric that the finest vessel in the world, the Titanic, is unsinkable and that it sets sail in the following week. Also mentioned is the fact that the Kaiser, Leader of Germany in 1912 Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd, is talking nonsense and there will be no war. This is definitely a showing of Priestley's dramatic art because this creates dramatic irony. The audience knows that all of this is untrue but it is there to liven things up a bit. Mr. Birling owns a works and is a capitalist. The engagement between his daughter and Gerald is of particular importance to him because it means that his company, Birling and Company, could eventually merge with the more prominent Crofts Limited. ...read more.


Gerald finally got out of her that she had been thrown out of her room because she couldn't afford to pay the rent. This is where Gerald helped her a great deal. One of Gerald's friends, Charlie Brunswick, had gone to Canada and given the key to his flat to Gerald so he could look after it. Gerald took Daisy there and allowed her to stay there until she got a place of her own. Eventually Daisy became Gerald's mistress. This, of course, upset Sheila and she returns the ring to Gerald. This would probably upset Mr. Birling more than anyone else because he would gain the most from the marriage of Sheila and Gerald. Mr. Birling was looking at a merger with a bigger and better company than his which meant more money. The dramatics reach a high point when Mrs. Birling tries to build her wall between the inspector and herself. Sheila warns her but it doesn't work "If necessary I shall be glad to answer any questions the inspector wishes to ask me. Though naturally I don't know anything about this girl." This just builds up the tension because Mrs. Birling is falling into the big trap by building her own wall for security against the inspector. Even if she doesn't know it yet Mrs. Birling is as guilty as everyone else. Mrs. Birling also queries with the inspector about the impression he has made on Sheila. "You seem to have made a great impression on this child, Inspector." To which he replies. "(Coolly) We often do on the young ones. They're more impressionable." The audience do not know who the we are because there is no proof that Inspector Goole is a real police inspector. This is more tension added because even if Sheila has got nothing more to do with the enquiry she has his number marked and knows exactly what he is doing. ...read more.


This makes it a really tense ending, almost like a soap opera. Priestley has used his dramatic art perfectly for this. Priestley's use of cliff-hanger endings to all of the acts in this play is a great use of dramatic irony. The audience have managed to work out what will happen next and then all of a sudden the curtain falls and they have to wait for the next act. The play 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1945 but set in 1912. This was done by Priestley for many reasons. The main reason is that in 1912 capitalist ways were growing and this message is saying that we all have something to do with each other. This massage is probably at its strongest today because the relationship between the big capitalist bosses and their workers is at it's furthest ever. This has come about because of technology and the growth of business. Now is as good a time as any for this message to be told and this would have the same impact today. I believe that the strongest businesses are the ones that take care of their workers. This doesn't always happen though. Many businesses don't even try to know their workers. Those companies could learn from this message. The play 'An Inspector Calls' is written beautifully by Priestley because he builds up the tension at the right moments and has made this a perfect example of a tense play. The character, Inspector Goole, is a catalyst of the events and this is shown well by Priestley. I think that Inspector Goole could even be some sort of spiritual being that is there because of their consciences. This could also link with his name Goole which is a homophone of the word Ghoul which means Ghost. This has being done very well by Priestley even at the last minute there is tension between the family members. This really an eye opener and I think that there is a further message in the play is that everyone needs an inspector of their conscience now and again. ...read more.

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