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The end of Act 2 of "An Inspector Calls" is full of suspense and tension. How does Priestly create these effects?

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Zafren Hossain 10T 14th March 2006 The end of Act 2 of "An Inspector Calls" is full of suspense and tension. How does Priestly create these effects? At the end of the short play 'An Inspector Calls' if full of suspense and tension, this is because in this act the whole truth about Mrs Birling and her son's, Eric's relationship to Daisy/Eva, which causes chaos within the Birling family. Priestly also uses the suspense and tension to help the audience to work out the connection between the characters before the actual characters themselves do. J.B Priestly starts the play with family enjoying themselves at Gerald and Sheila's engagement party. This is an important moment in the play because it shows us the relationship between the family members before the inspector arrives to the house. When the inspector arrives at the Birling household, he arrives causing dramatic disturbances to the party, he does this by telling them about a young women's death. It gets worse as we slowly find out that ever member of the family had contributed to the death of this poor girl, but they had done it without knowing. Mr Briling had fired her from his workforce, then Shelia had her fired from her next job and then Gerald had a love affair and then decided to leave her at the end. Mrs Birling and her son Eric are the only to that have not done anything, from what we know so far, to contribute to the death of Eva/Daisy. ...read more.


We know this because the Inspector tells her that it her responsibility to keep poor and helpless Eva/Daisy out of anymore trouble. He said "At a time when no women could needed it more. And you not only refused it yourself but saw to it that the others refused it too...and you slammed the door in her face." She replies this by being extremely suspicious and cautious about the Inspector. The feeling throughout Act 2 is very tense. This mood is created by the slamming of doors in the background when a member of the Birling family, either leaving or entering. The reactions that are given from the character shows this tension. A prime example of this is when the stage directions read 'We hear the front door slam again.' This makes the audience and the characters feel anxious as neither of them know what is going on outside the room and are very nervous to find out. The Inspector uses a lot of eye contact in the play which creates tension between characters which leave the audience in even more suspense. For example when the Inspector arrives and Mr Birling realises he is not the only one that the Inspector has come to see. Priestley writes that the Inspector is looking at each character in turn, "...looks at Gerald, then at Eric, then at Sheila." This leaves the audience trying to figure out who is involved and how. As well as the tension between Mrs Birling and the Inspector, there is also tension between Sheila and her mother and father. ...read more.


Act 2 involves some of the main themes of the text. Priestley intends to make the point that every single cause has an effect and that small things can really build up and direct you right into a tragedy. The audience receives this message very clearly as they are as sickened just as much as Sheila is at the view of Eva/Daisy's death and that neither Mr or Mrs Birling take any liability for it. 'An Inspector calls' was written just after the Second World war, but set before it, Priestley wants to make the point that people of Europe did not learn their lesson from the First World War; we are still making the same mistakes again and again. He does this by making the character Mr Birling, who refuses to take any responsibility for his actions or to assume a level of social responsibility for those less fortunate then he is. It can be seen that he is actually hiding behind a disguise of decency, appearing to others as responsible and moral but actually being a man of the complete opposite. He is completely different to what people think him to be, what he shows other people. The end of Act 2 is very effective because although many truths have been revealed, the suspense is only somewhat reassured when young Eric enters the room. When Eric is standing at the door he does not speak. Priestley keeps the audience in suspense until the very need, until the next act commences. I think Priestley is very successful in getting his personal message across to the audience and does this well, by using suspense and tension. 1 ...read more.

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