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Priestley ends each act on a note of high drama. Write about the way he builds up the tension towards the end of each act. Describe how he leaves the audience with plenty to think about during the interval and after the play has finished.

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Introduction

Priestley ends each act on a note of high drama. Write about the way he builds up the tension towards the end of each act. Describe how he leaves the audience with plenty to think about during the interval and after the play has finished. The play "An Inspector Calls" written by J B Priestley, is a post 1914 play about a series of events that leads to the unfortunate suicide of the girl Eva Smith. The Birlings are interrupted during a celebratory meal by Inspector Goole who proceeds to question them about their role in Eva Smith's death. While the younger members of the family accept responsibility for the girl's death, the older Birlings refuse to acknowledge their input into Eva's suicide. Arthur Birling is a hard headed business man whose daughter, Sheila, is marrying into the rival family's firm by getting engaged to Gerald Croft. Sybil Birling, Arthur's wife, is head of a charity organisation, which helps young women when they have no money and nowhere to go. The son of the Birling family is Eric, who drinks heavily most nights and works at his fathers company. Throughout the play we get to see how all of these people added to Eva Smith's misery and eventually led her to swallowing disinfectant to end her life of suffering. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs Birling is talking about the father of Eva's child, and she describes him as: "Silly and wild and drinking too much" (Page 44) The audience realises that this is the perfect description of her son Eric, while the other characters do not notice this yet. Sheila though, realises that Eric is the father much earlier than the other characters. She tries to prevent her mother from commenting on how the father should take responsibility for getting Eva pregnant. Sheila: (with sudden alarm) Mother - stop - stop! (Page 46) The audience watches as Sheila acknowledges Eric as the father and tries to stop her mother from saying something she would regret. The stage direction here adds suspense as only Sheila realises Eric's involvement and yet the audience wants Mrs Birling to realise so that Mrs Birling will stop insulting her son unknowingly. In the last few lines of the play, Priestley uses silence to create tension. The stage direction used here is: "They wait, looking towards door" (Page 47) This implies how much suspense there is at this moment in the play as everyone realises Eric's involvement with Eva. In the interval between Acts Two and Three, the audience will be left thinking about how many men had affairs in 1912. ...read more.

Conclusion

Women were expected to stay at home and cook and clean while their husbands brought in the money. Now, in 2004, many women have better jobs and earn more money than their husbands. This shows how society has progressed since Priestley's time. Priestley also causes his characters and audience to look at moral problems like selfishness and ignorance. In "An Inspector Calls", the older generation would not accept responsibility for their actions while the younger characters did. This means that Sheila and Gerald realise their mistakes and will try not to make them again while Mr and Mrs Birling may cause someone else to kill themselves by making the same mistakes again. In 1946 there had been two world wars and Priestley was expecting there to be a third because nobody would take responsibility and admit that war was probably not the best option. This relates to the world today in 2004. President Bush went to war with Iraq because he thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was searched and no evidence and any weapons were found. President Bush is yet to admit that he was wrong to go to war without definite proof of weapons, and he probably never will, so the same thing could happen again. This is what Priestley was trying to show in his play - although accepting responsibility is hard; it is better for everyone in the long run. Samantha Tresler 10JF ...read more.

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