create dramatic tension in the play?
'An Inspector Calls'
How does Priestley's presentation of the Inspector create dramatic
tension in the play?
During the play 'An Inspector Calls' the Inspector is used as a
dramatic device. He raises and decreases the tension due to his
attitude, actions, speeches and his symbolic role to the family, and
audience at the time when the play was first performed. Throughout my
essay I will be examining how Priestley's presentation of the
Inspector generates tension throughout the play.
Before the Inspector is introduced into the play, the atmosphere in
the Birling's house is quite relaxed. They are celebrating Sheila and
Gerald's engagement, so there is a party atmosphere and dull lighting.
The stage directions describe the situation as: "At the moment they
have all had a good dinner, are celebrating a special occasion, and
are pleased with themselves." The Inspector's arrival disrupts the
family's celebration; this automatically raises the tension, because
the family would be annoyed by the abrupt interruption of their
When the Inspector first rings the doorbell, Birling is just finishing
one of his arrogant speeches. He has just said: "a man has to mind his
own business and look after himself and his own." This is significant
in relationship to the play because Birling's original views are
exactly what Priestley, through the Inspector, is trying to teach the
audience not to think like. Birling is the kind of person who
Priestley is trying to get through to.
The atmosphere is also made uneasy because no one knows definitely why
the Inspector has called bu...
... middle of paper ...
...r classes and the
way that the Inspector brought these ideas crashing down. In the 1954
film version of the play the man who plays the Inspector is a pale
faced man with dark dramatic eyes. This makes the Inspector look
ghostly enforcing some peoples theories of him being a ghost.
Because the Inspector's true identity is not revealed the tension in
the play is increased. This is because the audience don't know
anything about the Inspector, so do not trust the inspector and
there-fore would be put on edge by him.
Priestley has presented the Inspector in a very mysterious way, we do
not know where he comes from or anything about him, but it is soon
made clear why he is in the play; to teach an important lesson. The
audience is left thinking about the play and all the issues raised in
it. This play definitely left me thinking about my role among society.
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