How Does Priestley Build Up Dramatic Tension in Act 1 Of An Inspector Calls?

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 How Does Priestley Build Up Dramatic Tension in Act 1 Of

An Inspector Calls?

Throughout the play, “An Inspector Calls” Priestley’s main objective is to have the Inspector interrogate the Birlings and in doing this increase the tension of the play.  Tension is created when two forces act against each other like an antagonistic pair and it creates a feeling of tightness or strain.  To do this, Priestley uses a range of dramatic devices.  In order to show the development of the tension, Priestley’s key dramatic devices will be discussed.

Prior to the play, Priestley heightens the tension by including stage directions in the script.  Stage directions are how Priestley wanted the play to be set as it would be the best way of increasing the tension.  Priestley writes:

“The lighting should be pink an intimate until the Inspector arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder.”

This shows how the lighting will portray a comfortable and warm atmosphere and then when the Inspector arrives, the lights will change, startling the audience.  This could be used to show the Inspector as a God-like figure covered in bright light or it could also be the Inspector focussing on the family, like a spotlight.

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Priestley’s use of scenery can amplify the tension. In Priestley’s stage directions he mentions how the scenery should be set in Act 1.  He indicates:

“The dining room of a fairly large suburban house, belonging to a prosperous manufacturer.  It has good solid furniture of the period.  The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable.”

This shows how the scenery will seem warm and safe giving an impression of security, but if a play seems to be going well at the beginning it generally won’t be at the end.  This increases the tension, as the audience will ...

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