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How does Priestley create dramatic tension in 'An Inspector Calls'?

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Introduction

How does Priestley create dramatic tension in 'An Inspector Calls'? In 1945 J.B. Priestley wrote the play 'An Inspector Calls'. It was set in 1912 and aimed to get a message across to its audience. But what was this message? And how did Priestley make it effective? In this essay I hope to explore and evaluate the play to find the answers to these questions. In particular 'How does Priestley create dramatic tension in 'An Inspector Calls'? In the play Priestley's strong socialist views come across very clearly. He believed that each person in a community has a responsibility towards others, and that their actions taken affect the people around them; his ideal society would be one where everyone is equal. This view is interwoven in the messages and key themes that he uses throughout the play. In 1945, when Priestley wrote 'An Inspector Calls', the Second World War had just ended. In comparison to when the play was set (1912) the threat of the First World War was looming. In using these time frames Priestley could create dramatic irony as the audience would know about events that the characters on stage wouldn't. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs Birling is also used to show the theme of criminal and respectable. As Chair of a charity she is a respected person, but when she used her influences to "have the girl refused" because she didn't like her, it is almost criminal because she is stealing the poor girl's life away from her. The girl was "almost penniless, desperate" but Mrs Birling still used her 'influence' to have it refused. Even her daughter thought it was "cruel and vile". Because Mrs Birling acted in the wrong way, Eva Smith died; which links it back to the theme of responsibility. Priestley used this web of themes to show it isn't only the poor who make mistakes, but how each single person in society should accept responsibility for their own actions. In this way, Mrs Birling is used as an example for the wrong actions that people take. Other characters in the play are used in other ways. As a counterpoint to her mother, Sheila often speaks the voice of the audience. She emphasises what is going on on stage, and gives clues to the audience to what they should be thinking. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is ironic because she wants the Inspector to leave them alone, but by saying that she is making her family even more involved. I think that at this point, the audience would want to shout out to Mrs Birling and warn her. They may sympathize with her because they don't want her to fall down. 'An Inspector Calls' is a very clever play because Priestley has managed to state his arguments and views very clearly. There is a clear moral of responsibility and of everyone's roles in society. He uses a lot of different devices to create dramatic tension- which are very effective because they all entice the audience in some way; characters are used to involve them, and cliffhangers to keep them hanging on. Priestley shows his strong socialist views through key themes which are often repeated. Most of these themes are still applicable today. In modern society we still have certain views of the different 'classes' and often refuse to accept responsibility. We are too ashamed to admit our mistakes which can often lead to our downfalls- just as it did to Mrs Birling. I hope that modern audiences would leave the theatre feeling just as affected by these morals as audiences in 1945 might have done. ...read more.

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