J.B.Priestley’s Play, An Inspector Calls Essay

1883 words - 8 pages

By what means, and how successfully is suspense created and sustained
in An Inspector Calls?

An Inspector Calls Essay

By what means, and how successfully is suspense created and sustained
in ‘An Inspector Calls?’

· Show analytical and interpretative skills

· The effects of dramatic devices and structure

· Layers of meaning in language, ideas and themes

· The social and historical setting/context

JB Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ towards the end of World War
2. The play however, is set in 1912 at a wealthy, middle-class family
home. The play is about a family celebrating an engagement, when an
Inspector calls, and tells them of a young girl’s suicide. The play
is always set in the family’s dining room, but it has precise stage
directions, so each character must be sitting in a certain place.
Suspense is used right through the play, usually at its peak at the
end of an act.

I think JB Priestley was trying to get a message across to us that we
need to abolish the social class differences, and all be equal.

The play is very good because you are always trying to find out who
was responsible for the suicide, and you know that everybody fits in,
but you don’t know when or how.

As you find, or think you’ve found something out, the play takes a new
dramatic turn, which definitely makes suspense the key factor. What
makes the play even better is that the audience always knows a lot
more than the characters do, and you are always wondering: “why
haven’t they worked that out?”

Suspense is very successfully created and sustained in ‘An Inspector

When Act one begins, the mood is merry, and civilised in the dining
room, at The Birlings’ house. The family are happy, excited and in
good moods after Gerald and Sheila’ official engagement. Mr. Birling
is especially overjoyed at seeing his daughter become engaged to the
son of a very successful businessman. He hints that Gerald’s father
and himself could be joined in business and make a partnership between
Crofts Limited and Birling and Company. There is no suspense at all at
this point, but shortly before, there was a hint of it when Sheila and
Eric had a conflict, but the tension melted away when it was resolved.

Suddenly, just when everything is going perfectly, Sheila brings up
the fact that Gerald didn’t come near her all summer, and she
confronts him, and asks him why. He replies that he was busy, and
Sheila doesn’t seem to be believing him, until Mrs. Birling steps in
and reminds her that he works, and that she should respect that.
Tension is very successfully created and sustained here because you
think that Sheila and Gerald are going to have a blazing row, but then
Sheila goes with her mother, so again, it dies away.

The next large bout of tension arrives when the Inspector calls round.
You can tell at that point that Mr. Birling gets uneasy, and at times,
a little impatient. You wonder what he or any of the other...

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