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Show how and explain why Priestley creates dramatic tension in the Birling house even before the inspector arrives. Pay close attention to the language of the play.

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Show how and explain why Priestley creates dramatic tension in the Birling house even before the inspector arrives. Pay close attention to the language of the play. In the first act, Priestley introduces the characters to the audience in the play and their lifestyles. Using language, props and costume, Priestley shows the characters are wealthy. For example at the beginning of the play, Birling says, " You ought to like this port, Gerald. ". The upper class of the time (1912) generally drank port after dinner. The Birlings are gathered after dinner to celebrate the engagement between Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft. Birling is a rich businessman who is only interested in making money- "It's my duty to keep labor costs down." Money is his first priority. Priestley wants Birling to sound ignorant, stupid, foolish na�ve and unsympathetic. Birling makes assumptions of what will happen in the future, for example, he says the Titanic will never sink, and he says that the English will never go to war because the Germans don't really want it. Since the play is set in spring 1912 none of the events have actually taken place yet, but the audience is living in the 1940's so they know Birling is wrong. ...read more.


They are not at dinner because they feel the Birlings are their social inferior. They do not approve of the engagement and choose not to be there from their own free will. When this subject comes up, tension arises. Birling says, "It's a pity Sir George and - er - Lady Croft can't be with us, but they're abroad so it can't be helped. As I told you, they sent me a very nice cable - couldn't be nicer. I'm not sorry that we're celebrating quietly like this- " Mrs. B then cuts in with " Much nicer really." Gerald then finishes with, "I agree." The pauses at the beginning of Birlings speech show tension. He does not seem to recall the maiden name of Gerald's mother so he calls her Lady Croft to save embarrassment. This shows the Crofts are very aloof and do not speak to Birling often. Mrs. B cuts in to stop her husband rambling and Gerald ends the conversation with, "I agree." Gerald is just saying he agrees to save embarrassment and to end the conversation. He may disagree strongly but doesn't feel comfortable enough to present that. Later though, when the men are on their own Birling shows he is aware that Gerald's parents feel that Gerald could have done better socially. ...read more.


The themes and issues brought up in this play were to help Britain and other countries become a more caring society. The themes and issues brought up were sexism, class and generation. In the book, women have a lower status than men- although Sheila represents change in this topic. Eva Smith represented all of these. She was female, poor and young. In class it shows everyone looks down on someone else. For example, the Crofts look down on the Birlings, who look down on Eva Smith. The Inspector came to their house to try and change it but only succeeded in changing Eric and Sheila. Through generation it shows the younger members of society are more easily influenced. At the time the book was written, society could be described as a triangle with the upper class as the top, with the least people, the middle class in the middle with more people and the working class in the bottom, which was the majority of people. During the war, it was mainly the working class who went and it was decided afterwards that they deserved free health and social welfare. After that Britain became a more caring and sensitive society. In a way, it was Britain giving something back to the working class for fighting for Britain. ...read more.

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