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What do you think is particularly dramatic about the section at the end of Act Two when Mrs Birling is questioned?

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls What do you think is particularly dramatic about the section at the end of Act Two when Mrs Birling is questioned? In directing the drama how would you bring out the drama? The play of Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley is made dramatic because it is all about an investigation of a suicide and how each family member is responsible. That is the whole aim of the play (in the Inspectors words): "We are all responsible for each other." The theme of the play is affected by when the play was produced in 1946, after World War Two when the Welfare State was being introduced. Priestley supports the topical issues in the play and shows how the Welfare State is needed by ordinary people. He is also trying to prove that society is not equal, even after the Second World War. In this section at the end of Act Two we find out that Mrs Birling was the final person who drove Eva Smith, who was pregnant at the time, to her suicide. However we do not yet know how Eric met Eva and what the circumstances were. This leads to tension and suspense. By the end of the first two acts, every member of the Birling family (and Gerald) has been questioned except Eric, so the audience have already realized that a dramatic pattern is unfolding. Suspense is also created when Eric left the stage in Act Two because the audience do not know the reason for his disappearance; this situation leads onto a dramatic climax when Eric re-enters the stage at the end of Act Two. However, if you study the Inspector closely, his methods are quite different from other inspectors because he is pressurizing and almost slightly blackmailing the family members. He does this in a way that is full of authority which adds to his dramatic personality. ...read more.

Middle

After this Inspector tries to show Mrs Birling the consequences of what she has done by using emotive vocabulary, illustrating the theme of social responsibility: "She came to you for help, at a time when no woman could have needed it more. And you not only refused it yourself but saw to it that the others refused it as well." In addition to the stage directions I would direct the actor to start getting angry and act as if he is stressing this to Mrs Birling: "She was here alone, friendless, almost penniless and desperate. She needed not only money but advice, sympathy and friendliness. You've had children. You must have known what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face." By saying this, the Inspector is trying to force Mrs Birling to face her moral liability, which is that being a woman, she should help another woman (linking back to the aim of the play). This leads on to more questions and gradually the Inspector loses patience: "Don't stammer and yammer at me again, man. I'm losing all patience with you people. What did she say?" This dialogue is very dramatic because it shows the aggressive side to the Inspector and how he uses it by not allowing Mr Birling to speak over him. He goes on to say: "I warn you, you're making it worse for yourself. What reason did she give by not taking any more money?" By saying this he is using another technique which we have not yet come across. To encourage Mrs Birling to co-operate with him he threatens her. The actor's facial expression should suggest that it is entirely Mrs Birling's decision on what to do. This technique receives a result so he goes back to using a rephrased question: ".....Then she came to you for help because she wanted to keep this youngster out of any more trouble - isn't that so?" ...read more.

Conclusion

This will build up the dramatic tension because everybody will be confused about what's gong on. The front door slamming at the end of the Act would build up the dramatic tension again. When Eric enters, his physical appearance confirms their suspicion: "Eric enters, looking extremely pale and distressed. He meets their inquiring stares." His physical appearance suggests how he has felt disturbed and distressed which leads to him being genuinely sorry for his past actions. To bring the maximum amount of drama out, I would set the spotlight on the characters just before the end of the scene. When they hear the front door there should, again, be a synchronised gesture towards the door, also where the spotlight is now set to. As Eric enters, the curtain falls quickly, which in turn results in Eric being the last character the audience saw. The audience will also be eager to see the final act and this pause in between builds up most of the dramatic tension. By all these methods of dramatic tension Priestley is adapting a modern, murder mystery theme. Often there is only one culprit and the role of the detective is to reveal the culprit, whereas in Priestley's play he is exploring class division and is showing how everyone is responsible for Eva's death. In response to this the family cannot adapt themselves to face reality. In this section only Sheila can but further on so can Eric. This section of the play also leads to Eric's interrogation which in turn completes the plays imaginary jigsaw of responsibility. All these techniques that Priestley uses, contribute to a recreation of 'courtroom drama' into the Birling's household. Eventually, as the play progresses, the audience begin to grasp Priestley's methods of dramatic tension and towards the end of the section I am studying, the tension transfers inside the audience. This results in them helplessly wanting to witness Eric's inquiry and also wanting Mrs Birling to face her proud snobbery. ?? ?? ?? ?? An Inspector Calls Adeen Parvaiz 01/05/2007 pg 1/6 ...read more.

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