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How does the playwright create tension throughout this act and ensure that the onlooker's attention is held for the next two acts?

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How does the playwright create tension throughout this act and ensure that the onlooker's attention is held for the next two acts? From the outset, the author Priestly holds the audience's attention with a mixture of suspense, expectation, and sheer enjoyment of the quality of his writing. The author transforms the convivial atmosphere of the dining room into an inquisition on to why, where and who could have been the instigator of this young girl's suicide? In the first few pages Priestly describes how at rise of the curtain the four Birlings and Gerald are seated at the table with Arthur Birling at one end, his wife at the other, Eric downstage, and Sheila and Gerald seated upstage. The lighting is "pink and intimate." In the opening scene, the atmosphere is warm friendly and loving (due to the pink lighting). The Birling's are sat round a dining table celebrating their daughter's engagement to Gerald Croft whose dad is Mr Birling's rival in business as Mr Birling reminds us in one of this many speech's "and now you've brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birling are no longer competing but are working together". ...read more.


Yes, that's what you say. This is the main cause of tension at the beginning of the play. Because Sheila and Gerald are engaged it get's everyone thinking what a young man such as himself could be doing all summer. Not even he would be working all summer. I believe Sheila's comment "yes-except all last summer when you never came near me" got the family member's mind's thinking, and the audience's, causing all sort's of tension as our thoughts jumped from one conclusion to another. Further on in the text, Mr Birling make's many 'speeches' but one of them stands out more than the rest which I believe causes tension amongst the audience "..And then ships. Why a friend of mine went over his new liner last week - the Titanic - she sails next week - forty six thousand eight hundred tons - New York in five days - every luxury - and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable. The repetition of 'unsinkable' creates tension aswell because by now everyone knows that the Titanic sinking was one of the greatest disaster's in history, and I believe Mr Birling saying that it's 'unsinkable' is a sign of a disaster approaching them. ...read more.


He repeats it so many times it makes me wonder whether he is trying to persuade himself that he is one! This causes tension because it makes me/everyone think that he isn't as marvellous as he thinks or as he's made out to be! Page ten Edna announces that the Inspector is at the door. This already causes some tension and anxiety with Eric because of a little joke Gerald says: "Sure to be, unless Eric's been up to something (nodding confidently to Birling). And that would be awkward wouldn't it? Birling: (humorously) Very Eric: (who is uneasy, sharply) Here, what do you mean? It is obvious that Eric is very uneasy about the Inspector coming and suggests that he is hiding something because the stage directions say he's "uneasy." Mr Birling on the other hand is far too relaxed about the whole thing. If I had an Inspector calling on my door, I would want to know why. But he, he just lays back has a chat with Gerald and act's like everything's right when as a matter of fact, it could be anything that he could be involved in! ...read more.

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