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How Does Act 1 Prepare the Audience for the Rest of the Play?

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How Does Act 1 Prepare the Audience for the Rest of the Play? Act 1 prepares the audience for the rest of the play in many ways. It starts by introducing the audience to the main characters, Mr and Mrs Birling, Sheila and Eric (their children), Gerald (Sheila's Fianc�e) and the inspector. Before the inspector arrives the family are celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald. Act 1 introduces the audience to the character's attitudes. At the beginning of Act 1 it introduces the audience to Mr Birling's attitudes that he always has to be the best. His first piece of speech gives this away, "...you ought to like this port Gerald. As a matter of fact, Finchley told me it's exactly the same port your father gets from him..." This quotation from the play immediately gives the impression that Mr Birling is trying to impress Gerald! By trying to impress Gerald it gives the audience the impression that Mr Birling is inferior to Gerald. One other thing Mr Birling says to Gerald that shows that he is trying to impress him is, "...there's a fair chance that I might find my way into the next honours list. ...read more.


He doesn't take into account that Mr Birling was lord mayor once. He ignores it whenever any body mentions it too him. From the way the inspector's speech has been written it entices the audience to think that he is a socialist. The next main character in this Act that the audience is introduced to is Sheila Birling. One of the first impressions that the audience gets from Sheila is that she is very spoilt but is very much under her mother, as her mother controls most of what Sheila does. Sheila's relationship to Eva Smith is the second to be released to the audience. Although there is a dramatic change in Sheila's attitude you still see glimpses of the change after she hears about the death not when she finds out what she has done to help it. "...but these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people..." This is the first change in attitude that the audience probably notices. When she realises that Eva Smith was the girl that she had got fired from Milwards out of spite and jealousy, she starts to blames the death on herself. ...read more.


This leaves the audience knowing that their question will be answered in the next act. Priestley does this through the character's speech, body language, facial expressions, and the tone of voice used. An example of this form the play is, "(he looks at Gerald, then at Eric, then at Sheila) ...are you suggesting that one of them knows about this girl..." Another example of this is when he does not let any one of them look at the photograph at the same time. Therefore in conclusion Act 1 prepares the audience for the character's attitudes and changes in their attitudes. The audience is also prepared when J.B Priestley gives the foundation to the death of Eva Smith. It also sets questions into the audience's mind that are waiting to be answered throughout the play. And eventually they are answered. These questions are the foundation for suspicion in the following Acts. Also by Priestley leaving Act 1 on a cliff-hanger it entices the audience to carry on watching, once again this sets suspicion. The plot is developed through the play and all questions are answered barring one! This is was it suicide or murder? This question is left for the audience to decide and is not answered by the storyline. ...read more.

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