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An Inspector Calls - Look closely at the opening of the play up to the inspector's entrance - Analyse the dramatic devices Priestly employs to create atmosphere and set up his central theme.

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Introduction

GCSE English Literature Coursework Assignment 20th Century Drama - An Inspector Calls Look closely at the opening of the play up to the inspector's entrance. Analyse the dramatic devices Priestly employs to create atmosphere and set up his central theme. J.B Priestly employs many dramatic devices throughout the play to great effect. Some help add atmosphere whilst others set up his central theme. In turn this enhances the audience's understanding of, 'An Inspector Calls' and enables them to fully appreciate Priestly's political views. J.B Priestly is very prescriptive about the set and characterisation. His instructions are precise and clear, therefore not leaving much open to interpretation. When comparing both Priestly's instructions and the performance itself, there are considerable differences. Priestly wanted the general effect to be 'heavily comfortable and substantial but not cosy and homelike'. However according to his stage directions there is only one table, centre down stage, with no mention of the rest of the stage. This could lead us to believe that the rest of the stage was plain. Seated round the table are the four Birlings and Gerald Croft. Priestly's directions are so detailed that he has even written the seating arrangement. The recent London staging of the play was completely different, but Priestly's intended effect was nevertheless achieved. The play is set in 1912, although it was not written or performed until 1945. The stage is set out with a trapdoor downstage right and a mailbox just upstage from that. At the very beginning of the play the theatre is meant to look old and run down. ...read more.

Middle

Basically Priestly wanted the exact opposite to what society had been like in the Edwardian era of 1912. Priestley's objective through the play was to try to warn the public, that their actions will have consequences. He wanted people to live together helping each other as one big community. J.B Priestley was a Socialist and used theatre experimentally, merging political views and ideas with naturalism and realism. In the play Inspector Calls, Priestley combines everything he hates, to create the play's antagonist Arthur Birling. Mr Birling is head of the family and from the very beginning of the play this is apparent. Arthur is seated at the head of the table and topics of conversation are discussed through him. A gender issue is also evident throughout the play. The women speak less than the men, after the meal Mrs Birling and Sheila retire, leaving Mr Birling, Gerald and later Eric alone. The men smoke cigars, which also demonstrates the Birling's elevated status in society. Early on in the play, it is evident that not everything is quite right within the family's relationship. The atmosphere appears false and forced, as if they are trying to gloss over the lies and secrets that Gerald and every member of the family conceals. There are a number of examples that support this, for example, Sheila and Eric, who although in their early twenties, behave like a pair of ten year olds. Sheila is aware that last summer Gerald had an affair with another woman although he will not admit it. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Inspector finally does arrive, his entrance is timed perfectly, and again this is a dramatic device employed by Priestly. The Inspector's character is completely different to every other in the play. In the London performance, the stage presence of the Inspector was overwhelming. Although the Inspector was not a big man he created an impression of massiveness and solidity. He wore a plain dark suit and always looked hard at the person before he spoke to them. Sometimes it seemed like he was reading the minds of the characters before he even asked the question. All the other characters spoke fairly quickly and loudly, but the Inspectors voice was soft, slow and slightly menacing. He was very precise in the way he spoke, and never seemed at all vulnerable. From the moment the Inspector meets Mr Birling, Arthur tries to put him down. He tells him about his previous status and Lord Mayor, and how he knows most of the police force. He tells him that he has never heard of him, but that many of his acquaintances have similar positions to Inspector Goole. Mr Birling is such an arrogant man who does not care at all for others less fortunate than himself. This is evident as he shows no remorse about the death of Eva Smith, nor does he think any of it could possibly have been his fault. In conclusion, J.B Priestly employs various dramatic devices throughout the play, and most are very effective. These dramatic devices add atmosphere, central theme and allow the audience to have a better understanding of the play and Priestly's political views. Ruth Fitzpatrick 11S 1 ...read more.

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