An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley An inspector calls was drafted in 1934 and remained unfinished for many years. After completing several other works Priestley revised the play between the years 1944-45 and it was performed to the general public on stage by the "old vic company" The play is set in 1912 where at this time divisions between classes lead to a socialist/ capitalist economy. Priestley uses this to create a framework for the play. This essay examines Priestley's use of tension and ways in which it is used particularly at critical points in the play. It also deals with moral issues relating to that time. Act 1 The scene opens in a large spacious and comfortable dining room with a calm, happy atmosphere as there is a small party celebrating Sheila Birlings engagement to Gerald Croft. As the inspector enters the established mood and atmosphere changes dramatically, this is indicated by changes in the lighting which was a pink and intimate hue has now turned to a brighter, colder and harsher nature, and creates tension amongst some of the characters. The inspector at once creates an air of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period. He speaks carefully, weightily and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking which shows the audience that he is a key character in the play and creates fear or intimidation. The inspector informs Mr. Birling that there had been a young girl named Eva Smith brought in to the infirmary only two hours ago. She had swallowed some strong disinfectant and died ... ... middle of paper ... ... Eva Smiths all over the world and that we are all members of one body and we must look after each other. Tension also develops when the inspector shows the characters the photographs and when Gerald suspects that he might have been showing them different photo's in order to trick them. The audience has a chance to anticipate the plot and there are points in the play which hints to what might happen. The order in which the inspector reveals the characters involvement and the way in which he give an impression that "he already knows" also creates tension. He starts right at the beginning when Birling sacks Eva from the from the factory and works his way down to the latest development. The entrances and exits of the characters also create suspense and tension as times of entrances etc. become a crucial part of the play.

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