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An Inspector Calls - What is the style of the play? How would the audience's interest and attention be sustained during a performance?

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls- What is the style of the play? How would the audience's interest and attention be sustained during a performance? J.B Priestley wrote 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945. It was performed in front of an audience for the first time in 1946. However, the play is set in 1912 and so the audience would know of events mentioned in the play, such as World War One and Two and the sinking of the Titanic. The play opens at a dinner party at the house of the Birlings. The party is soon interrupted by the arrival of an inspector, who informs the family of the suicide of Eva Smith. He then goes on to slowly reveal how each member of the family has a part in her death. In Act One Arthur Birling makes a speech to the dinner party in which he dismisses the possibility of war '... you'll hear some people say that war's inevitable. ...read more.

Middle

Ghouls are figures of evil, creatures that rob graves in the night. The audience will wonder why the inspector has such a sinister name- another question they will want answered. It is not until much later that the inspector spells his name aloud, 'Goole. G. double O-L-E'; however suspicion has already been planted in the minds of the audience. The Inspector tells Birling of Eva Smith's death almost as soon as he enters the house. The explanation of how she died is written very abruptly with short, sharp sentences, 'Two hours ago a young woman died in the infirmary. She'd been taken there this afternoon because she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out, of course.' This abrupt, to-the-point speech will shock the audience, thus, being a very good way to get the audience's attention. Each member of the Birling family played a part in the death of Eva Smith; however the fact that they all did play a part, and perhaps more to the audience's interest, what part they all played is revealed very slowly. ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience will want to see Mr Birling's reaction to knowing he was wrong, but they also know the Inspector is right, men were taught in 'fire and blood and anguish'- there was the first world war. The audience will again enjoy the knowledge that they know more than the characters in the book, and so this is another effective way to keep the audience's interest. At the end of the play, the Birling family find out that the Inspector was a hoax. Birling then receives a phone call from the police saying a girl has died in the same way as the Inspector had said Eva Smith had died and wanted to ask some questions. The Birling family did not learn the lesson that the Inspector had come to teach them, and so they will be taught the same lesson over and over again until they do learn- hence the phone call. On the surface the play is a detective style, whodunit play. However, 'An Inspector Calls' gradually turns into a modern day morality tale; the moral being that everyone should look out for everybody else. ...read more.

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