In this essay I’m going to explain how the writer priestly creates tension during the play. This essay will also explore different dramatic devices for example juxtaposition, plot, subtext, dramatic irony, setting, Lighting & Props, Exits and entrances & stage directions to explore how these create tension. Priestly uses lighting to create and maintain tension throughout the play for example he writes ‘lighting should be pink and intimate’. The use of the words ‘pink & intimate’ tells us that the mood in the room is calm and positive.
Also by using the choice of colour ‘pink’ it makes the room feel like a dream world and everything is happy. This could be that the colour ”pink” seems that we are looking through ”rose coloured glasses” this suggests that it is far too over the top in its positivity, another meaning for the colour ‘pink’ is that it is very romantic and the imagery suggests things like roses this could make the audience feel that the couple are very much in love This is because they are celebrating Gerald & Shelia’s wedding proposal but that mood is soon shattered & starts to show the tension as soon as the inspector arrives.
The words ‘brighter’ and ‘harder’ suggest danger and makes things more tough. The word ‘brighter’ suggests that its like a spotlight which is harsh & bright which is searching, this would make the audience feel pressured to answer the questions this also suggests the idea of the spotlight searching as if the inspector is looking for something.
This therefore also emphasis the idea of police and it makes the birling family look and feel like criminals. In fact, a lot of this play puts a spotlight on the birlings and the audiences, making them question their own morals and their own actions.
Priestly also uses setting to create tension, for example we are told the birlings are living in a ‘fairly large suburban house’ which is however ‘not cosy and homelike’ this suggests that the scene did seem positive at the start but the ‘not cosy’ creates tension by suggesting that the family may live in a big house but they aren’t happy. And it almost suggests that the house is too big to be ‘cosy’. This is the dramatic device of juxtaposition by putting the ‘not cosy’ and ‘homelike’ together.
Another way the dramatic device creates tension is when Priestley writes ‘heavily comfortable’ this shows tension because it might be suggesting that the house is too comfortable ”heavily” which could suggest that there house is too comfortable because it’s such a big house & could make the audience feel like they have intruded with the awkwardness going on. The other interpretation of this is that a ‘heavily’ comfortable house is simply very comfortable, but perhaps they are weighed down by all their wealth.
The writer uses the structure of the play to create tension I know this because in a early speech, the inspector states that a ‘young woman died’ the writer is setting up the murder mystery for the audience to figure out right from the first scene. This is also a harsh fact that a young woman is dead this could make the audience feel quite scared and shocked, this therefore creates tension. Priestly also uses the dramatic device of imagery by using the image of ‘strong disinfectant burnt her insides out of Course’ this creates a very horrible image for the audience but this could also make the audience feel sad and sorry for the young girl.
Using the words ‘strong’ and ‘burnt’ make the scene much more serious this creates tension because the audience want to know why the inspector is here & why he is telling them this. Using the words ‘burnt’ & ‘strong’ most probably link to the kind of horrific imagery Priestley saw at war. This is why Priestley wrote this play to warn people that if we don’t care for each other this is what will happen to the rest of us. This might make the audience relate to the bad things that they have done in the past and make them feel bad.
Another good example of using structure to create tension is at the end of act one when Sheila & Gerald face the inspector: ‘the inspector appears looking steadily and searchingly at them’ Inspector: well? ‘. By using the words ‘steadily’ & ‘Searchingly’ it makes the inspector seem stern and that he is searching (just like before) for an answer almost like a spot light searching for an victim to answer all his questions. This could make the audience feel intimidated by the inspector and that they don’t want Shelia to incriminate Gerald.
By using the questioning of ‘Well? ‘ the writer creates a cliff hanger. This therefore creates tension because the audiences want to know the answer to the question of how Gerald involved in all this? Another way this creates tension is the way the inspector acts for example when he says ‘well? ‘ he could make it sound like a command word (an imperative) with his short snappy questions which could make the audience feel that he is rude, or simply establish his status at the beginning of act two as very high.
Another way priestly uses structure to create tension is when priestly writes ‘we hear the front door, they wait looking towards the door. Eric enters looking extremely pale & distressed’ by using the words ‘extremely pale’ & ‘distressed’ it makes the scene seem more tense because It make Eric look like the victim because he is acting distressed and he looks pale so this makes the audience think it was him. By using the dramatic devices of dramatic irony creates tension this is because the audience know that it was Eric but Eric doesn’t know that they know it was him.
This is therefore a cliff-hanger because the audience want to know how Eric’s secret will unravel. Another example is when priestly writes there ‘inquiring stares’ this makes the rest of the family seem like they have all ganged up on Eric this could make the audience feel sorry for him because they already know it was him. Although the audiences are made to feel empathy with the character they are also asked to realise the errors he’s committed and to judge him (and perhaps themselves). The family relationships which inevitably occur create much of the plays tension.
Sheila comments ‘I hate to know how much he knows that we don’t know yet’ this is good evidence because it displays the dramatic device of dramatic irony because the audience know what he knows but the characters don’t. For example he is the catalyst for all the different break downs like when Eric’s drinking problem is revealed & they find out that Eric made Daisy Renton pregnant this breaks down the family relationships because they all feel ashamed of Eric. This could make the audience think that the inspector is there just to stir things up & that he is a character used as a device to cause tension between the other characters.
This maintains the tension because the audience wants to know what the next thing they will find out is. A lot of the characters in this play eventually feel guilty for causing the death of Eva Smith and this provides an interesting link to the context of the play because priestly wanted to write about how wars begin and he is saying that because they argue so much & are so selfish and treat other people badly because these characters display the selfishness and greed which leads to war.
So therefore this a warning of what can happen if we don’t care for each other just like World war one & two, both of which priestly lived through and was disgusted by. The characters exits and entrances also maintain the plays tension, for example in act two, ‘Mrs birling enters, briskly and self confidently, quite out of key’ by using the words ‘briskly & self confident’ it makes Mrs birling seem that she’s more important then everybody else. This could make the audience feel that she looks down on others because of her class and could cause audience members to dislike her.
It Also makes her seem that she is challenging the inspector & that’s she knows she will win because she loves herself a bit too much. By preistly writing ‘quite out of key’ this suggests that’s she is not in the same mood as everyone else this juxtaposition of moods creates tension and therefore immediately Sheila is embarrassed. If the audiences were too pick up on this they might sense that the family aren’t too close because of the way Mrs birling made her daughter feel so embarrassed & they would think that this family is rather deranged.
Another way priestly creates tension by using exits and entrances Is when the inspector exits in his lat monologue I know this because priestly writes ‘if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire blood and anguish’ this speech that the inspector says is designed to teach people that ‘we are all responsible for each other’. When the inspector says that people who don’t learn will be taught in ‘fire blood and anguish’ shows that the inspector is exaggerating to make the family worry before he leaves because therefore priestly is leaving his audience with something to think about just like the inspector.
By using the words ‘fire blood & anguish’ makes us think of hell which could make the audience think they where to go to hell if they were selfish and if they didn’t respect each other. SO basically even after the inspector has left he is still creating tension all because of the way he left. ….. Another character who is aware of his own class and ego is Mr Birling- when he states, ‘& were in for a time of steadily increasing prosperity’ this suggests that things are going to get better for the birling family but actually there not because soon after the inspector comes along and turns there happy world upside down.
On another level, birling is talking economically and suggesting the whole country is going to be prosperous, another inaccuracy since the audience knows war & rationing is just around the corner. Another way he Shows Dramatic irony is when priestly writes ‘I say there isn’t a chance of war’ this is dramatic irony because ww1 and two is about to happen and the audience know it is since they are watching in 1945 or after. This could therefore make the audience think that he’s a bit of an idiot. This could also make the dislike him because he’s acting better than the other characters as if he doesn’t care.
I think priestly is making a point about selfish rich people saying that they are all the same; almost stereotypical. As if the bad things such as war are due down to the fault of the selfishness of those rich people. Another way priestly creates tension through dramatic irony is when birling says ‘unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’ about the titanic this shows that birling thinks he’s so sure of himself and that he Is always right when actually the audience know for sure that the titanic does sink, killing thousands when birling said that everything will be great.
This could make the audience feel sad because they know already that the titanic has already sunk but also think that he’s stupid and egotistical and ensure that he is not a character they admire or trust. Priestly uses context to create tension he has the inspector say to Mrs birling , ‘you admit being prejudiced against her case? ‘ By Mrs Birling Admitting to being prejudiced we find out that Mrs Birling is just as bad as the whole family because it’s partly her fault that Eva smith killed herself.
The writer uses this admission to show that there was a big gap between the rich and the poor & people were selfish and didn’t care for society. I believe priestly is saying that if we don’t care for each other then things like this will happen to us. This could make the audience ashamed of Mrs B because she had treated somebody badly, and make them consider their own actions towards others. Another way Priestly uses context to create tension is when Shelia and Gerald start arguing. With Sheila stating, ‘Why you fool’.
This relates to context because preistly wanted to write about how wars began and this was a perfect example because all the fights at some level, have the potential to lead into war. This Therefore creates tension because the audience can link everything that’s going on in the play to real life, and comprehend the warnings of the play. Priestley uses sound effects to create and maintain tension I know this because in the text he writes ‘sharp ring of a front door bell’ when the inspector first arrives.
By using the words ‘sharp ring’ suggests it was loud and that it rudely cuts into the conversation and interrupts birlings speech. This could also have an effect on the audience by making them jump because they were so drawn into the speech. This means that the inspector could also have this sort of effect on them too. This therefore creates tension because everything else is silent as the front bell rings and the audience want to know who is at the door. This makes the audience intrigued.
In Mr Birling’s speech at the beginning of the play, he proudly states that ‘as a hard-headed businessman’ he thinks ‘there isn’t a chance of war’ so priestly interrupted him because he might of wanted to shut him up because he was making such a fool of himself & priestly already knew and he wanted to display the moral of this story Which is the fact of society & how we as people treat each other. The door is used to similar effect later in the play with gerald ‘they watch him go in silence. We hear the front door slam’. By using the word ‘silence’ suggests that the atmosphere is sad and everybody is depressed and ashamed.
But this also makes the tension very high because Gerald’s secret has just been revealed and they’re all standing there, this could make the audience feel shocked and appalled at what they have just seen. By using this silence creates a sort of awkwardness for the audience. By using the word ‘slam’ creates an aggressive atmosphere for the audience. This is also the technique of onomatopoeia. This loud noise breaks the silence and almost breaks the tension by surprising and waking the audience up alerting them to the high emotion the characters are feeling.
As well as sound there is also silence which is sometimes more effective then sound we can see that when priestly writes ‘Eric enters and the others are staring at him’ this is when Eric has just entered after the rest of the family were talking about him. This silence creates tension by the suspense because the audience are waiting for somebody to say something. Finally, perhaps one of the most effective devices in the whole play is the way priestly utilises the character of the inspector to maintain high levels of tension.
In the inspectors final monologue preistly writes ‘we are responsible for each other…. if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish’ by using the words ‘fire and blood and anguish’ This is the linguistic device of imagery which seems to suggest that if we don’t care for one another we will be taught to in hell or through our deaths. This connects to the way of the main message of the play & by priestly writing ‘responsible for each other’ he is saying that this will happen to us if we don’t care about each other.
Birling was saying be selfish but priestly disagrees with the attitudes he gives to birling. The inspector says ‘care for one another’ and preistly agrees with the ideas of the inspector. Another way the character of the inspector creates tension is when we find out the inspectors name ‘Goole’ which is like ghoul which could mean ghost, this suggests that the inspector was actually a ghost and was never there in the first place and that he was just there to make them think about what they have done, that it was a warning of what can happen if they continue treating society and people badly.
This creates tension because the audience want to know was he real or not? In conclusion I think that the plays main message was that if we didn’t care for the society and the people around us we could be the reason bad things happen. This therefore reflects on the time the play was written, because at this period of time there was a big gap between the rich and the poor and people were selfish; in this play it shows that between the birling family and Eva smith that they couldn’t care less about her until she was dead.
Another way it reflects priestly views was that at that time there were lots of factories where people got treated badly just like Eva smith did before she committed suicide. The Inspector calls is set entirely in one room I think priestly was successful in doing this by creating tension because this creates the feel of claustrophobia as if they are trapped, nowhere to go until the answer is revealed this obviously creates tension because its almost like a bribe ‘ If you answer my question, you can go. ‘ And you’re trapped unless you do.