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Entrances and exits can provide many moments of dramatic tension in theatre. In An Inspector Calls, how does Priestley use the entrances and exits of characters to create dramatic tension? Choose at least three examples from the play.

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Introduction

Entrances and exits can provide many moments of dramatic tension in theatre. In An Inspector Calls, how does Priestley use the entrances and exits of characters to create dramatic tension? Choose at least three examples from the play. In this essay I will examine the effects of entrances and exits that Priestley has used in order to build up and create dramatic tension in 'An Inspector Calls.' Dramatic tension is the effect the action has on the audience and the atmosphere that is created. To do this I will examine three examples, these are Inspector Gooles' entrance, Sheilas' exit after seeing the photograph of Eva Smith and Inspector Gooles' exit. My first entrance is Inspector Gooles' entrance at the beginning of the play in Act 1. Straight away when he enters we, the audience, can tell he is a man who won't let anyone take control of him. This is shown as he is described as creating an impression of 'massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.' The lighting alters the atmosphere. Before the Inspector arrives the lighting is 'pink and intimate' but once the Inspector has entered the lighting is 'brighter and harder', which makes the characters turn serious and makes us, the audience, watch with more intense. This also has a physical effect on the audience as if the light is brighter and harder it will be difficult for the audience to see the stage therefore they will be expecting something to happen or go wrong. ...read more.

Middle

Before Sheila is shown the photograph the Inspector is questioning Mr Birling, who wants to go into a quite corner to discuss Eva Smiths' death but Sheila cuts in and says 'Why should you? He's finished with you. He says it's one of us now.' What Sheila says connects to her exit because she acts as if she has nothing to do with the incident. She does not realise she does until the Inspector mentions Milwards. Dramatic tension is than built up even more when Shelia asks 'What-what did the girl look like?' When she asks this we, the audience, feel that she is starting to panic and could possible know who Eva Smith was. When the Inspector is about to show Sheila the photograph, 'He moves nearer a light-perhaps standard lamp.' This alters the atmosphere because the characters on stage as well as the audience are just focusing on the little bit of light coming from the lamp. This builds up dramatic tension as we, the audience, are trying to see Sheilas reaction but find it challenging due to there being only a certain amount of light on the stage where she is. Sheila recognizes the photograph 'and than runs out.' This exit has an effect upon the audience because we first got the feeling that Sheila may have known Eva Smith but now we definitely know Sheila knew Eva as she recognized her. ...read more.

Conclusion

This also creates dramatic tension because once the Inspector has left no one knows what will happen so everyone is waiting in suspense to find out. The Inspectors' exit has an effect upon the audience because we are left waiting and wondering whether the Birlings will go back to normal and act as if nothing happened. The effect is mainly suspense as first the Inspector comes, than makes the Birlings and Gerald confess and than leaves after causing tension between the Birlings. We, the audience, are thinking and trying to figure out what will happen next. Overall I think that the entrances and exits in 'An Inspector Calls' are to unbelievable and predictable because they are all to perfectly timed according to what has just been said. For example when Mrs Birling does not believe that Eric could do such a thing Eric walks in at that exact moment, this is all to much of a coincidence. However the entrance still creates dramatic tension. The entrances and exits are predictable due to Priestley using unity of time, when the play takes place in 'real time', unity of place, the Birlings' dining room throughout the play and unity of action, there is one plot where every action and dialogue relates to one story line. The way Priestley has used entrances and exits as a device to increase dramatic tension in the play is interesting because it created suspense due to the audience not knowing what will happen next. ...read more.

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