• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Does Priestly Build Up Tension at the ends of Acts 1 and 2 in An Inspector Calls?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How Does Priestly Build Up Tension at the ends of Acts 1 and 2 in An Inspector Calls? An Inspector Calls was written by J.B. Priestly in the 1940's. It is set in 1912 the week the Titanic sunk. It is about an upper class family who are celebrating their daughter, Sheila's engagement to Gerald Croft. An Inspector Goole arrives and begins to question them in relation to a girl who committed suicide. It turns out that they are all linked with the girl and have contributed in some way to her death. The Inspector then exits leaving the Birling family somewhat confused and perplexed. A phone call to the nearest police station reveals that there is no Inspector of the name Goole. The family now incredibly relived but still very confused begin to relax when the phone rings and a voice on the end tells them of a suicide and that an Inspector is on his way. The play gives a good insight into Priestly's political views on society at that time. It also gives a good example of the class system in 1912. This is shown in Mr. Birling's lines on page ten. Birling: the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive - community and all that nonsense... a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own. When he speaks of "cranks", he is talking about socialists of the time who were very much in the minority. Priestly was obviously of the socialist viewpoint as is demonstrated in the Inspectors speech on page 56. Inspector: One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us... We don't live alone. ...read more.

Middle

Gerald thinks that she should leave but Sheila is adamant that she wants to stay. Sheila and Gerald's relationship begins to breakdown even more in this act. When Gerald says, "You've been through it - and now you want to see somebody else put through it," and Sheila replies, "So that's what you think I'm really like. I'm glad I realised it in time Gerald." This increase in tension between characters creates tension for the audience to watch and maintains their interest. Soon after this, Sheila becomes quite hysterical about the whole matter. Many pauses are used to emphasise certain words and phrases. "I know I'm to blame - and I'm desperately sorry - but I can't believe - I won't believe - it's simply my fault that in the end she - she committed suicide. That would be too horrible -." She does not want to be blamed for the girl's suicide; this all creates tension, as the audience want to know who is ultimately to blame for it. What the Inspector replies is, "we have to share something. If there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt." This can have different interpretations. The Inspector could simply be saying that all of the characters in the play have to share their guilt for the girl, which creates tension as the audience want to know who will be punished for the girl's suicide and how the other characters come into the matter. You could also interpret it as the fact that everyone has to share their guilt for all the problems in the world, things like the poor and the fact that everyone is as guilty as each other. This make the audience wonder about the Inspector and almost how much of an Inspector he really is. When Mrs. Birling enters, tension is immediately created by the way she enters the room. She enters briskly and self-confidently, quite out of key. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is left on a cliffhanger and every one wants to know what will be happening next and how exactly did Eric get involved and why. Eric clearly knows they know something as he comes in, turns pale, and looks distressed. This leaves the audience interpreting what will happen next and why for themselves. Tension is created all the way through this act using many different methods all of them affective. Priestly uses many different techniques to create tension throughout the whole play building them up as it draws nearer to the end. I think that silence and pauses are very important in the creation of tension as many people are at the edge of their seats wanting to know what happens next in the play. Leaving the ends of each act open to audience interpretation is also very effective and works well. This helps as it leaves the audience to try and think for themselves what might happen next and who else is involved and why and how. The conflicts between the characters relationships also help to create tension as the tension they create between themselves is also shown through into the plot of the play. Foreboding is also very important especially with the Inspector. He always seems to know what id going to happen next and is just trying to make them realise what they have done which in the end it turns out that is what he is trying to do. Foreboding help as the audience do not know the ending and want to know how the Inspector knows these things. I think that the most successful device that Priestly uses to create tension is the character of the Inspector. This is done very carefully and subtly, as the plot develops the Inspector seems to always be able to add a twist at critical moments just to keep the audience interested and to maintain the increase in tension. Priestly has very successfully created tension and maintained the interest of the audience throughout the play and both Acts 1 and 2. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    The differences between classes at this time were very clear. The Birlings are obviously a rich family and there name highly respectable. For Eva to use the Birling name was a big insult for Sybil as people might think they are part of the same family and might lower her social standing.

  2. How Does Priestley Build Up Dramatic Tension in Act 1 Of An Inspector Calls?

    This was particularly impressive in the version we saw at the Bradford Alhambra when, as Edna announced "Inspector Goole," the Inspector appeared in a plain, old-fashioned darkish suit, he spoke carefully and when he questioned the characters he used a sharp, booming voice.

  1. How does J.B Priestly create dramatic tension in Act 1 of "An Inspector Calls"?

    There is also conflict between Shelia and Gerald this is created when the Inspector wants to talk to Gerald about Eva Smith. This creates tension because Shelia and Gerald are engaged and this could destroy their relationship. Gerald would like to talk to the Inspector privately, not when Shelia is around.

  2. Inspector Calls-How Sheila Birling Changes And Develops Through The Play

    Gerald and being confident in herself; however it also makes the reader feel sorry for her as she hasn't got the inner strength to say what she really feels without being held back and worrying of the possible outcome she might be facing. Sheila does not change or develop here.

  1. How the character of Sheila Birling develops throughout the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    society - aristocrats and those with money - the reaction she has when Gerald offers the expensive engagement ring highlights this. She says to him 'now I really feel engaged' and while it seems that she does consider it symbolic, it's for quite trivial reasons that could turn audiences against her rather than the reverse.

  2. How does the character of Sheila Change during the course of J.B. Preistely's "Inspector ...

    Sheila refuses to defer to Gerald as she wants everything out in the open. She wants to know what the rest of her family did as well as her. Sheila knows that the inspector knows about the secret relationship. In act 1 we learnt that Sheila is pleased with life at the moment but she is also a spoilt child.

  1. How does Priestley build dramatic tension at the end of Act two of An ...

    She is very inquisitive and wants to know all about the situation. She appears to be na�ve and shallow at the beginning of the play, however, when she remarks to Gerald "last summer when you never came near me" she is seen in a different respect.

  2. Explore the Development of the Character of Sheila in 'An Inspector Calls'

    a stereotype of a high class woman that is selfish so that the reader understands the change she goes through in the play when she evolves and is able to understand her actions.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work