J.B. Priestley has successfully created dramatic tension in a play named ‘An Inspector Calls’, written in 1945 with didactic purposes to question how the society deals with individuals and their own problems. The growth of tension between the characters on stage are mirrored in reader’s awareness between the rich and the poor. It is clearly to see that Priestley is able to criticize society throughout the characters on stage with his form of speech, structure and the character’s language.
Priestley uses his personal experience of politics and war to write a dramatically successful, moralistic play in 1945, at the end of the World War II. As the play written during that time, it helps Priestley to take advantage of creating tension by questioning conservative policies and categorizing classes. Tension is created between the Birlings before Inspector Goole arrived, when Sheila told Gerald “except for all last summer, when you never came near me”. As readers can see, a comma used in the quote was used to create a dramatic pause, this will keep readers engaged and also makes readers wondering what Sheila is about to reavel something from Gerald.
In act I, Eva Smith has “died in infirmary” after swallowing “strong disinfectant” and it “burnt her inside out”. The Inspector told that her death was “suicide, of course”. A comma again, is used to create another dramatic pause as the Birlings and readers are predicting that Inspertor Goole is about to say something don’t yet know what. The confusion between “of course” was meant to be sarcastic has succesfully created tension and made the audiences palpitating. Responsibility theme was used here and it seemed that the Birlings who’s responsible for Eva Smith’s death. Another important device used by Priestley in order to create tension and suspense is the use of stage directions. ‘we hear a sharp ring of the door bell’. Priestley used stage directions to create tension, it used to reflect tense atmosphere and a mysterious element of the play. Eva Smith’s dead is also related to a fire and produce a mass of tension. The light in action is notified and thought deeply to create strong tension and discomfort. At first, light ‘should be pink and intimate’ to create comfort, but then it becomes ‘harder and brighter’ when the Inspector enters. Bright lights become alarming to the family and create effects as if they were placed under a microscope. In addition, vivid light shows the characters and society’s flaw as well as their own.
In the Edwardian era the sex before marriage was frowned upon and not the tradition, in which case Gerald played between two women. Gerald could accept the relationship with Sheila because they were honest and loving each other and belonged to the same class of society. However, when Gerald begins to see her lover as “Daisy Renton”, she can not accept a full sex relationship as she has a low stand in the society. He should register with Edwardian and keep Sheila as his love, in contrast he has a relationship with Daisy.
Birling sends two women out of the room, because they need to be protected as they are ‘weaker sex’. He does this mainly to ease the tension of his women hearing all the foul talk. As well as the double standards on how the characters talked to each other in the ‘Inspection Call’. Priestley communicates each character differently and he does this with their words. The inspector showed a lot of stress to the family because he was very calm and made them nervous because they did not. This shows that he took control and this unfortunately made them even more miserable, the Inspector almost like a priest.
Countless stage directions are used mainly adverbs like: “aggressively”, “defensively”, “abruptly”, “eagerly” and “uneasily” are used which are shown creating dramatic tension in numerous ways. The way in which the characters speak to each other has many different effects as Mrs B is awfully snobby, Mr Birling is arrogant, Sheila feels like she is completely guilty for everything that has occurred and so on. Shelia says ‘That’s what you say’ this creates tension in the use of language and emphasises ‘you’ you imply that she doesn’t believe him.
Numerous stage direction are used mainly adverbs such as “aggressively”, “defensively”, “abruptly”, “eagerly” and “uneasily” are used to create dramatic tension. The way the characters talk to each other has a lot of different effects when Mr Birling arrogant, Sheila feels completely guilty about everything that happened and so on. Shelia says ‘That’s what you say’. This creates tension in using the language and emphasizes ‘you’ implies that she does not believe him.
Birling is the backbone of his innocence and naivety. He’s extremely ironic when he come up with his arrogant monologue:”I say there is no chance of war.” This is completely ironic as two years after the war began so he made himself look like a fool. Dramatic irony was also used because it was written later, the audience knew that he was wrong and that a war had already taken place.
Priestley implies to the audience that they are all sinners as Priestley is using biblical ideas and illusions, so that a microcosm of Goole becoming a Preacher man. Priestley desired to educate people and warn them and communicate with the populous through the popular medium of the theater. But Priestley boldly manages to intensify his longed emotions for a socialist country which makes the play so tense that he cliff hangers the end making the audience wonder that the Apocalypse is the revelation at the end of the world where we will be judged for who we are and what we do.
With all of the above evidences, we can see that An Inspector Calls is somehow relevent to nowadays society which people works together and help each other. Priestley had successfully use dramatic device to create tension in the play. With the author’s knowledge and experience, he wants to educate reader/audience to how they live their live and how they treat others.