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How does Priestley use the Inspector to create tension in "An Inspector Calls"

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Introduction

How does Priestley use the Inspector to create tension in "An Inspector Calls"? Tension is created through the structure of the play. For example, in Act One we see the Birlings and Gerald Croft in the Birlings' dining room celebrating Sheila and Gerald's engagement. The party is almost at an end when Inspector Goole arrives. The timing of the Inspector's arrival is quite coincidental as it is when the celebrators are most vulnerable to bad news. The celebrations were at an end. Priestley was born on 13/09/1894 in Bradford. He wrote An Inspector Calls in 1945, at the end of WWII. It is set in around 1912-13, just before the 1st World War and is a mystery/whodunit play. ...read more.

Middle

This is when he states, "A woman died in the infirmary. She had been taken there this afternoon because she had swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burned her inside out of course". The way the inspector questions the family is also very unusual. He already knows the answers to the questions he is about to ask. Whenever a family member has another surprise he is never shocked or even startled. He never takes notes, he is alone and the fact that he only ever shows the photograph of Eva/Daisy to one person at a time. This is all evidence that would imply that the Inspector is not an actual police inspector. This again builds up tension. ...read more.

Conclusion

He always seems to necessitate being in control. He is constantly interrupting them all and making sure that they think he is superior, even though the Birlings believe that they are bigger, so to speak. The Inspector is generally mysterious in his temperament, which adds to the tension. Priestley gave the Inspector a suitable name to match his personality - "Goole" which sounds like 'ghoul', which is another word for ghost. The Inspector's mysterious character is vital in the structure of the novel. Priestley created a source of tension far greater than I have ever seen by producing the Inspector's ignorance and yet, he still seems rather superior to the upper class Birlings. Then the writer leaves us on a cliff-hanger/mystery by saying that the Inspector doesn't actually exist. Was he real? If he was, who was he? If not, what was he? ?? ?? ?? ?? Kurt Mossford ...read more.

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