An Inspector Calls - Essay 14

Topics: An Inspector Calls, J. B. Priestley, Time and the Conways Pages: 5 (1914 words) Published: March 6, 2012
How does Priestley use dialogue and stage directions to create a scenes of mystery in "An Inspector calls"?

"An Inspector calls" written by - John Boynton Priestley or probably known as J.B. Priestley, who is widely regarded as one of England's greatest playwrights. J.B. Priestly was a playwright who found inspiration from his life and experiences during the world war one and two to create egocentric but ordinary characters at the same time. "An Inspector Calls" was set in 1912 shortly before the world wars and the famous titanic, which sank after being hit by an iceberg. Many ironic references are made by Mr Birling for example Mr Birling describes the titanic as "The Titanic, she sails next week, 846 tons and very luxury and unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable", and " I say there isn't a chance of war, the worlds developing so fast it'll make war impossible". The significance of this is that maybe J.B. Priestley was trying to send a message there about the ignorance of the middle-class people at the time. The play is a three act drama, which takes place in a single night set in 1912. It is considered to a classic of the mid 2oth english theatre. J.B. Priestly really focusses on the proud typical middle-class family and their views and attitude towards society and observes the historical context of time, place and action in his structure and text. J.B. Priestly uses dialogue and stage directions many times to create a sense of mystery and a deeper understanding and insight into the text.

The opening scene of the play has a great impact on the audience's overall opinion of the Birlings . The role of Mr.Birling is also important, as the head of the family, he is the key character within the play. The staging of the opening scene is necessary as it reveals the superiority and self importance of the Birling family. The opening scene sets an impression of the Birling family that is not as it seems. The Birlings are celebrating a special occasion and are very pleased with themselves. J.B. Priestley's use of stage directions and dialogue are used to convey his concerns and ideas to the reader, which also interest the reader as well, as he builds up mystery from the abrupt interruption, to the mysterious character of the inspector. J.B. Priestley's light changing from pink which symbolises babies and is a positive colour and like the mental state of babies, it suggest almost beyond reality and non realistic opinions and attitudes, it ironically changes when the inspector comes into a bright light, which symbolises a sense of revealing the truth and clearly showing things which couldn't be seen before. J.B. Priestly shows the inspectors authority and intimidation by a mix of clever use of stage directions and dialogue for example the change of lighting as the inspector walks in creates a shift in the atmosphere and change of emotion. Another example is when the Birling family hear a "sharp ring" from the door bell. "Sharp ring" suggest a sense of an abrupt interruption of the Birling's celebration. This suggest an unpleasant determination in the inspectors character as the word "abrupt" suggest negative and unpleasant emotion. The timing of the inspectors arrival was very ironic as he interrupted Mr Birling's speech that he believes it is "every man for himself". When the inspector first rings the bell, J.B. Priestley uses dramatic irony Mr Birling had just said a matter of seconds before that he "might get a knighthood if we don't get into any trouble". This is another very significant time of entering. The inspector presents him self very focussed and doesn't let anything distract him from getting him the answers that he wants. J.B. Priestly shows this clearly in the stage directions for example the inspector often comments on things "sternly, cooly, dryly and often ignoring this". This clearly shows determination which shows mystery knows why he's so determined and why his methods are so unauthodox.

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