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In this essay I am going to explore the ways in which J.B. Priestley creates tension in the play; An Inspector Calls.

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls How Does Priestley Create Tension in the Play In this essay I am going to explore the ways in which J.B. Priestley creates tension in the play; An Inspector Calls. The author introduces dramatic devices, language and themes in order to create tension between the characters and importantly; to keep the audience engaged. He uses stage directions and the entrances and exits of characters to create tension also. An Inspector Calls was written in 1945, however was set in 1912, before the first and second World Wars, the sinking of the Titanic and the introduction of women's rights. Priestley uses his personal experience of politics and war to write a dramatically successful, moralistic play. In Act One tension is created between the Birlings before the arrival of Inspector Goole when Sheila says to Gerald, "except for all last summer, when you never came near me". A comma is used here to create a dramatic pause, this keeps the audience engaged as during the dramatic pause the audience are on the edge of their seats, wondering what Sheila is going to reveal about Gerald. The use of the word "never" emphasises Sheila's point, so does the use of "near". This arouses suspicion of Gerald, particularly within the audience, and keeps them guessing as to what Gerald had been doing last summer. ...read more.

Middle

Dramatic irony is also used in many ways as a dramatic device. It is used to promote the Inspector yet mock Mr Birling. In Birling's speech at the beginning of the play, he proudly states that "as a hard-headed businessman" he thinks that "there isn't a chance of war" and that the Titanic is "absolutely unsinkable". With the play being published after two world wars and the sinking of the Titanic, Priestley makes the audience believe that Birling is a fool and wishes to broadcast how pretentious some middle class people can be. Whereas the Inspector, who states in his final speech that "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish" indicating that there will be a war, is elevated by the use of dramatic irony. This makes the audience believe the socialist views of the Inspector instead of the 'foolish' views of Birling. The Inspector uses harsh language here and lists three powerful words; he does this in order to get to the Birlings and also addresses the audience as a whole; warning them of their actions and painting long lasting images in their minds, this contrast in language and character between Birling and the Inspector is a vital process of creating tension. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another example of a well timed entrance of the Inspector is when he enters just after Birling's speech, as if to discredit everything Birling has just said. In conclusion, the fact that a meaningful message is represented would indicate that An Inspector Calls, as well as being a murder mystery, in the way that Priestley uncovers the story of the death of Eva Smith, is also a moralistic play. Priestley shows the audience how not to live their lives, using dramatic devices to demonstrate this. He makes the audience contemplate over the fact that they are actually "members of one body" and that they are all "responsible for one another" and has made them realise that socialism is the way forward instead of capitalism. Weighing up the evidence, we can see that An Inspector Calls is very relevant in today's society where people do still need to work together and help others in need. J.B.Priestley effectively uses many dramatic devices to create tension in An Inspector Calls, such as dramatic pauses, dramatic irony and timings. He applies them in order to portray his political views, using an upper class, Edwardian family to do so. Priestley's knowledge and experience are taught to the audience/readers of the play in order to help them to see how to live their lives and treat others, therefore helping to create a more peaceful, idealistic world. Jake Scaddan 10L ...read more.

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