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Creating Dramatic Tension In J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

1619 words - 6 pages

Creating Dramatic Tension in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

"An Inspector Calls," is a play that incorporates many different and
controversial aspects that remain indefinitely unresolved throughout
the play. The moral issues of the play highlight the reality of the
time and there relevance to modern day society as well as fifty years
ago. The play demonstrates the human inability to recognise mistakes
and identify guilt. For example as soon as the inspector leaves,
although guilty, the Birling elders forgive themselves and return to
their self assured lives. This indicates that the inflictions of
parents views on younger generations, is not always the correct thing
to do; the idealism of the young sees through the corruption of their
elders. The play ultimately shows that although the consequences of an
action are unintentional, most actions have a destructive effect on
other people's lives. This is shown in the play through the behaviour
of Alderman Meggarty. The reference to these actions portrays an image
of a time when the poor and underprivileged were victimized by the
dictatorship actions of the factory owners.

The play is set in a town called Brumley. This is fictional setting
but the acute description provided by Priestley suggests it was based
on his home town Bradford. The description of Brumley portrays a
typical industrial based town, yet is notoriously more important than
other towns as it has its own Lord Mayor and a police force with a
chief constable. It becomes apparent that many women are in need of
help due to the existence of "Brumley Women's Charity Organisation,"
the eeliest attitude inflicted by the more dominant figures still
lurks among such charitable organisations. The play was written in
1945, just after the Second World War. However, Priestley chose to set
the play just before the First World War. This enabled him to expose
the political decisions made and relate the moral of his play to a
much larger scenario. The play takes place in the Birling dining room,
which is described as heavily decorated but not homelike. This
highlights the domestic tensions between the Birlings. A family bond
is based on materialistic factors such as money and social status.
There is no suggestion that affection exists within the family.

"An impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness," is the
initial and complete description of the inspector. This effective yet
brief and general description of the character suggests that it may
have been based on Priestley himself. This is apparent in the
similarities in characteristics and sense of humour. The play provides
scope for the audience to identify the inspector in their own way. The
inspector's character is enhanced by the use of lines that are
effectively questions showing a degree of inner certainty. Each
...

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