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How J.B. Priestly Creates Tension

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Explain how Priestley creates tension in Act One of An Inspector Calls and how he uses this to communicate his ideas to the audience. The play follows the inspection of the Birling family after a suicide has happened. The Birlings are a rich family that were celebrating the engagement of their daughter, Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft. All of a sudden an "inspector" comes to question them. He reveals to them that they each have a part in the whole of the inspection. Eva Smith was a girl that had worked for Mr Birling and was associated with all of the Birlings and Gerald Croft. At the time Eric was drunk and Arthur was in a happy mood but as soon as the inspector came everything had changed. The inspection took the evening and the tension built up in many ways. Throughout the play a variety of voice tones have been used by J.B. Priestley. The inspector uses more emotion than words, this is what causes tension in the play. ...read more.


For example the Birling house was "heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike", Birling household was modern and very expensive this did not mean it was homely or loving. The setting suggests a coldness and impersonal atmosphere. The ambience also suggests that the family weren't close or intimate. The change of lighting gives the audience a sign how dramatically emotions and moods can change when a new character enters the scene. The lighting was said to be like "pink and intimate until the inspector arrives" this would show a calm atmosphere and then when the inspector arrives it would show also a new scene and a new character that has entered the play. The inspector questions the Birlings in a very rude manner which shocks Mr and Mrs Birling. Mr Birling also was shocked that the inspector didn't know anything about him being the lord mayor a long time ago and he is still on the bench .For an inspector at that time it was very unusual to question people in a harsh manner, especially towards a government official. ...read more.


tension was built up by using a variety of longer words and sentences to carry across the message of how the character wanted to express themselves and deliver the line. For example when Mr Birling got angry at the inspector disturbing the celebrations. Another incidence was when Eric was drunk he used "slang" words used then such as "squiffy" which also explained more about Eric's character. In the opening of the play the inspector has a picture of Eva Smith, her face is not shown to all the characters at the same time. "He produces the photograph" and only shows it to the person that he is talking to. The reaction from all the characters means that they are familiar with it and makes you wonder what the girl looks like and what relations she had with them. Even without looking at the photograph Eric had figured out whom it was and causes him to run away from the living room. You wonder if it is the same picture they were all looking at and if it was the same person that they all identify with. Nimrah Khan/ An Inspector calls/ November 08 ...read more.

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