"How does J.B Priestley end each act on a note of high drama?"

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English essay:

“How does J.B Priestley end each act on a note of high drama?”


The play starts off with the setting of an apparently normal family, the Birlings. They are celebrating Sheila Birling's engagement to Gerald Croft , the son of Mr Birling’s friendly business rival.

  At first it appears as though nothing is wrong until an Inspector appears from seemingly no-where ,claiming to be investigating the suicide of a young girl. From this point on the tension in the play builds as one by one the characters are interogated by the Inspector.The highest points of tension are at the end of each of the three acts and Priestley does this in a number of different ways.

Act one

One of the first things Priestley does to set the scene would be the lighting.At first it would be bright and cheerful ,with colours such as white,yellow and pink.But as the play goes on and reaches the climax the lighting changes and thus does the mood of the audience.

   It is Birling's speech in Act 1 that sets the scene for the action in the play. Birling is confidently talking to Eric and Gerald about what he thinks about the future.He thinks of everything as though it is business and openly gives Eric and Gerald advice that every man has to look out for himself ,which may leave the audience wondering if this good advice or not.

             During the early stages of the first act Sheila hints at a problem

 “What about that time you hardly came to see me over the summer?”This is revealed to be a real problem at the end of the act when Gerald lets out that he knows the girl (Daisy Renton) when the Inspector mentions her.This is played out fully at the very end of the act when Sheila confronts Gerald about his involvement with the girl in an argument when the Inspector has “conveniently” left the room.During the heated conversation it is plainly obvious that Gerald knows or has met Daisy Renton but he is very eager to drop the topic and stop Sheila questioning him.

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“I’m sorry Sheila.But it was all over and done with,last summer.I hadn’t set eyes on the girl for at least six months.I don’t come into this suicide business.”

This leaves the audience desperate to find out what Gerald has been doing with this girl who they know so little about so far, other than she was working in one of Mr.Birling’s factories.Priestly did this to keep the audience interested and wanting more details of Gerald’s involvement with Daisy Renton.

Act 2

During this Act the audience’s thirst for knowledge over the affair between Daisy Renton and Gerald is ...

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