An Inspector Calls - Dramatic Tension

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An Inspector Calls is a play written by J. B. Priestley in 1945 about the prosperous Birling family being confronted by a Police Inspector who reveals during the play each family member's involvement in a young woman's suicide. The play has socialist undertones, as Priestly was a prominent socialist himself. The play is set in spring 1912 in the dining room of the Birlings house in Brumley, just before the First World War. It was first performed 1 October 1946 to an audience who had just lived through the Second World War.

Priestley uses dramatic tension through the play to make it interesting and full of suspense for his audience.

Mrs Birling's interrogation begins half way through Act Two. So far in the play Inspector Goole entered the Birling Household in Act one whilst they were having a small engagement party for the Birling's daughter Sheila. The inspector begins to interrogate each of the family members of their involvement of a young working class woman named Eva Smith, who committed suicide. The first member of the Birling family to be linked to Eva Smith's death is Mr Birling, who owns a large business. Birling admits that Eva worked for him and discharged her after she was part of a strike. Sheila is next in line for the inspector's questions, and it is revealed that Sheila had Eva sacked from her next job in a shop called Milward's. Eric Birling, the son of the Birlings, leaves the room against the Inspector's wishes and it is revealed he is a hardened drinker. Gerlad Croft, Sheila's fioncee(?), admits his involvement next, as he met her at a haunt of prostitutes and ‘rescued' her from her poor lifestyle giving her place to stay. She then became his mistress. Mrs Birling is next in the line of fire and it is revealed that a now pregnant Eva Smith came to Mrs Birling's charity committee for help.

The inspector begins questioning Mrs Birling. " Mrs Birling, you're a member – a prominent member – of the Brumley Women's Charity Organization,...
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