How does priestly create tension in act 1 of An Inspector Calls?
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How does Priestly create tension in act 1 of An Inspector Calls Act one of Priestley's Inspector Calls draws our attention to an unknown Inspector visiting the family home of the Birlings, in his attempt to divulge any information relevant to the death of a young poor girl by the name of Eva Smith later known as Daisy Renton. It would appear the girl has committed suicide caused by and intake of strong disinfectant and as the Inspectors' questions evolve during the course of his discussions with the family members, it becomes apparent that the Birlings and soon to be family member Gerald with his marriage to the daughter Sheila have all somehow been connected to the now dead girl. The arrival of the inspector is sudden and unexpected and interrupts a celebratory family meal and drinks. The Inspector is extremely strong minded and addresses very probing questions to each one of the Birlings and eventually extracts the information that he needs. The manner in which the Inspector questions the family members about their knowledge of the dead girl implies that each and every one of the Birlings played a part in the events leading up to the death of Eva Smith, and how the upper class society people abused their position in the community to suite themselves regardless of the consequences of the less fortunate in this case that of a poor girl who has eventually died.
Birling, making it quite clear that he doesn't want to socialise with these people but is here to obtain the information he needs does this by cleverly about Eva Smith, and evidently to show the Birlings that they have an accountability for her death for which they are clearly all in denial. The Inspector uses mind games and takes a photograph out of his pocket of the dead girl, but initially keeps it away from Eric and Gerald keeping them both agitated with the suspense of not knowing who the girl was and when asked by Eric and Gerald why they couldn't see the picture the Inspector replies "It's the way I like to go to work. One person and one line of inquiry at a time." By doing this Priestly makes it obvious to the audience that the mysterious Inspector unknown to the Birling family intends to interrogate each and every one of them leading us to believe that they are all to blame for the incident. Gerald Croft tries to avoid any involvement with the questioning from Inspector Goole and says "Look here, sir. Wouldn't you rather I was out of this?" Automatically the audience will assume he's hiding something and wants to escape any inquiries. Mr. Birling in trying to protect his future son in law from inquiries defends Gerald by saying "he is the son of Sir George Croft- you know Crofts Limited."
Priestly creates a quiet confidence within Birling but the audience knows and is held in suspense because it's evident that war does follow and the Titanic will sink so in effect Birling Is portrayed by Priestly as a very ignorant man, completely unaware of the realities. Another twist to act one is cleverly done when Birling accuses the Inspector of making a nasty mess of their celebration even when he says "We were having...a celebration tonight. And a nasty mess you've made of it now." Cleverly Priestly turns the tables and the Inspector replies "That's what I was thinking...when I was looking at what was left of Eva Smith...I thought, a nasty mess somebody's made of it." This turns the accusation from Birling into blame and creates tension by leading the audience to believe Birling was responsible. Throughout act one J.B Priestly gradually exposes the real characters of the Birling family who though living a comfortable upper class life really have no regard for the less fortunate. This is done through the character of Inspector Goole, who mysteriously come into their lives and extracts intimate details exposing who they really are and their double standards. This is done skilfully using different techniques and with a slow build up of tension through lighting, conversation and interrogation eventually the truth comes out. The audience are kept in suspense throughout act one as the Inspector gradually picks away at the details with his cunning use of questions. ?? ?? ?? ?? Andrew Panayiotou.10WS.
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