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Explore the ways in which Priestley uses the inspector as a dramatic device in Act1 to extract information from Mr. Birling and Sheila

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Coursework- Explore the ways in which Priestley uses the inspector as a dramatic device in Act1 to extract information from Mr. Birling and Sheila Priestley uses the inspector as a dramatic device to open up the lives of the Birling family, after the horrible suicide involves a young lady each family in turn have met and caused misery to, and create drama whilst using a wall- building method to break into the characters individually. The Inspector adds mystery to the play as to where he has come from and to what purpose he is there for. The inspector adapts his technique to the individual he is interrogating and links each members stories in an un-ravelling effect. The play was written 1945 set back in time to1912 so that the audience have the advantage of knowing what was to happen in the 'future'. The inspector has many roles within the play to add drama and encapsulate the audience, one of which is to insert more mystery to the play and leave the Birlings reviewing themselves as well as the so-called inspector who has just appeared on their doorstep. Edna invites the inspector into the dining room where the Birling family are celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald. Throughout the play there are doubts over where the inspector has come from and who exactly he is. At the end of the play after which the inspector has left, Gerald comes back form a walk where he had found out that the inspector in fact hadn't been part of the local department. ...read more.


Sheila seems incredibly concerned about the young girl who sounds just like herself, therefore digging herself a bigger hole, or building a bigger wall.' What was she like? Quite Young? ... Pretty?' This way Sheila builds up her wall through sounding sympathetic and empathetic towards the suicide when in fact it turns out she is one of the reasons this miserable incident took place. Sheila is a young and intelligent woman whose engagement party is rudely interrupted by the inspector. She has a more liberal minded overview of that time. In 1912 there were major party wars between Capitalists who believed in the big business men pocketing all the cash and the 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class system in society, and the Liberals who were fighting for the rights of the bottom class people in society so that they can live a better lifestyle. Throughout the play Sheila shows many an objection to her fathers capitalist views on labour costs. ' But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people', shows on obvious objection to Birlings main priority in life, 'Lower cost and higher prices'. Sheila also rejects her parent's morals when it comes to accepting moral responsibility, if nothing else. The inspector is used to pull away at the family and to bring up the different parts of each individual in order to cause cracks within bonds. Mr and Mrs Birling point blank refuse to take any responsibility for the death of Eva and aliases. ...read more.


The inspector easily changes persona to identify and tap mentally into the character he is examining. Sheila although false at the start, has morals, which her father seems to lack. Her liberal views of life in general come across well in this play, just as Birling appears pompous and incorrect. As far as extracting information from these two charcters I think its fair to say that the inspector scratched all he could as he started them off and let them extract the rest themselves, leaving them to unravel the reasoning behind this girls horrific suicide. The inspector exposes the weaknesses in personality and drains them morally of any dignity they believed they had. As a narrator the inspector talks us through the story of Eva Smith slowly unravelling clues and discovering suspects, just like any other detective story. Apart from the fact that to this date no one knows who the inspector was/is and what purpose he had to be at the Birlings house that night. It could have been a warning but only Priestleys knows the thinking behind the Inspector, that leaves one thing still left a mystery, that's the inspector. So, overall I believe Prietleys vision of the Inspector and using him as a dramatic device, has left so many gaps to be filled in by the audience and characters themselves, this play, as whole would not have worked had the Inspector not been used so well as a dramatic device. Samantha Owen 10SDB ...read more.

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