An Inspector Calls Essay Dramatic

Priestley uses a change in lighting to show the change in atmosphere that the Inspector’s arrival brings: ‘The lighting should be pink and intimate until the INSPECTOR arrives, and then it should be brighter and harder.’

The sharp ring of the doorbell interrupts Birling’s speech about social responsibility. This forces the audience to make a connection between the Inspector’s arrival and Birling’s Capitalist ideology that promotes self-interest and believes that community is ‘nonsense’.


The Inspector only shows the photograph to one person at a time. This means that no one character can ever be sure that they have seen the same photograph as any other character. This adds to the sense of mystery which surrounds the girl and the Inspector. It is important to notice that the photograph always has an immediate impact on whoever sees it.

Dramatic irony

The audience know that Birling’s first speech is full of inaccuracies. This makes us question the reliability of his judgement – if he’s wrong about war and the Titanic, what else will he be wrong about?

‘And I say there isn’t a chance of war...the Titanic – she sails next week -...unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’

‘let’s say in that time you’ll be living in a world that will have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour agitations and all these silly little war scares. There’ll be peace and prosperity and rapid progress everywhere.’


Birling is overconfident when he tells Gerald that he is expecting a knighthood and his throwaway comment about getting into trouble makes the audience expect something bad to happen:

‘so long as we behave ourselves. Don’t get into the police court or start a scandal – eh?’

Sheila’s taunting of her brother hints that he may have an issue with drink: ‘You’re squiffy’


Priestley uses opposites or contrasts as an effective device:

  • He juxtaposes the beliefs of Birling with the attitude of the Inspector
  • He also forces the audience to make links between Sheila and the dead girl to highlight the differences in their lives because of their social classes


Act 1 ends with the Inspector saying ‘Well?’ to Gerald. This is the same way that Act 2 begins. This cliff-hanger means the audience have to wait to find out what happens, even though they have already anticipated what will happen.


Dramatic irony

There is dramatic irony in the way Mrs Birling is trapped at the end of the scene. When she forcefully blames ‘some drunken young idler’, the audience realise that she is describing Eric. This also highlights her hypocrisy to the audience: we know that she would not apply the same standards to her own family.


Again, the audience are forced to make contrasts between the Birlings’ self-interested attitudes and the beliefs of the Inspector.

The Inspector himself

It is especially clear in this scene that Priestley is using the Inspector to move the plot along, to control the pace of events and to decide the order in which the characters are questioned.


The timing of Mrs Birling’s entrance mean that she is unaware of the impact the Inspector is having and insists on trying to control events herself.

The timing of Eric’s entrance is also significant: he reappears at the end of the Act just at the moment when the audience and the characters on stage realise that Eric is the father of Eva Smith’s baby.

Priestley uses sound effects again in Act 3 when the telephone ringing heralds the significant information about to be shared

The final denouement is a shocking surprise to the characters on stage and the audience – a ‘twist in the tale’.

Dramatic Tension in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestly Essay

1928 Words8 Pages

How does J.B. Priestly create dramatic tension in An Inspector Calls?

In "An Inspector Calls," dramatic, tension is created in many ways.
First of all is Conflict. There is conflict within the family initially. This is mainly in the generations; Mr Birling isn't particularly proud of his son Eric and so he isn't as kind to him as he is to other members of the family.

Just keep quiet Eric.

As you can see, he doesn't really respect him at all. This is what Mr.
Birling says to Eric after Eric asks if it was because of Mr. Birling firing Eva that she committed suicide.

Rubbish! If you don't come down sharply on some of these people, they'd soon be asking for the earth.

This is Mr. Birling's response after Eric tells him…show more content…

He feels that he is a member of the family and to be treated with respect, unlike Eric.

You're just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted.

This is more of a genuine remark of liking to Gerald than it is a mocking of Eric. If it had said

'...kind of son I always wanted.'

Then it would have been very harsh on Eric and maybe a bit too mean, even for Mr. Birling, so this shows that he has still got compassion for Eric.

Nearer the end, once they have all told their own stories, the family starts to blame each other for the death of Eva. This is another example of family conflict. At the very end of the play, it is the older generation members of the family who take the events in their stride and the younger members are shocked and quite disgusted.

Next, there is conflict between the family and the inspector: Mr.
Birling gets quite angry with the inspector:

(Angrily) Look here inspector, I consider this uncalled-for and officious. I've half a mind to report you.

This is showing how Mr. Birling does not like the inspector at all and that he doesn't want to disclose any more information about the matters discussed. Mr. Birling feels that the inspector is putting the blame of the death of Eva upon him alone. He obviously doesn't like this as he feels that he had to fire Eva, that he had no choice. All the way through the play, Mr. Birling dislikes the inspector. Later on in the play, Sheila and Mrs. Birling also dislike the

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