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    20th Century Drama – An Inspector Calls Essay

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    An Inspector Calls was written in 1944-45 but set in 1912 before the world war. In 1944-45 Priestly sent the script of An Inspector Calls to Moscow as unfortunately there were no London Theatres available, so due to this the script was established in 2 theatres in 1945, which it came back to London to be produced. The audience were in the 1945 mood whilst watching the play that was set in 1912. So the audience are re-visiting what was soon to come -2 years later the 1st world war and the sinking of the ‘unsinkable ship’ Titanic on her maiden voyage.

    A version of another detective thriller, as what it seemed at the beginning of the play. The opening scene involves the audience being invited in to the play in a very cosily style to a warm scene of a diner party where all the characters of the Birling family are introduced including Gerald Croft. A mysterious inspector intrudes on the cosy scene… As one by one each member of the Birling family is questioned there is a chain of events that sequences and links the whole investigation to a suicide murder.

    However this is not what it is only about, but there is another story portrayed that leads into confusion about the real identity of the inspector. Was he a Ghost, was he the voice of conscious or was he…? Who knows! There are a variety of entrances and exits that take place in the play. A build of anxiety, fear, nervousness and suspense is the entire thrill in the entrances and exits of An Inspector Calls. The importance of entrances and exits in the play is to keep the audience enthusiastic and keen to watch the involving exits and entrances.

    There are various characters in the play and each has a very significant role to play in the story which also connects to a mysterious murder. The tree most important characters from my point of view are: Gerald, Eric and of course the Inspector; The Inspector has an attitude that is tough. He is a hard- headed man. He is precise and influential and creates ‘an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’ just at a glance of look. He is an inspector that obeys his work and duty and likes to do it firmly ‘otherwise there is a muddle. ‘ He intrudes the cosy scene and that lets the play move on with a subject of his own.

    Inspector Goole is strong and has sturdy physique that is then described throughout the play in a very ‘peculiar and suspicious manner’. A typical man in his 20’s evoked by Eric Birling. ‘Half shy half assertive’ with drinking problems, late nights and women; just are few of his problems that cost a big price during the play. Eric however, unlike his parents, realises the ‘consequences of his actions’. Eric is shown playing a big part in one of the most dramatic entrance of the play that characterises his role expressively that then makes him an important character of the play.

    Another very vital personality illustrated in An Inspector Calls, Gerald who is seductive and personable man in his 30’s, ‘rather too manly to be a dandy. ‘ Gerald is a helpful and a quiet down-to-town gentleman. Despite Gerald’s involvement of a big role in Eva’s life, Gerald is not all that disturbed by the incident which demonstrates his character played in ‘An Inspector Calls. ‘ Some of the major entrances that take place in the play suggest the tension that rises gradually towards the very anxious entrance that takes place nearer to the end of the novel.

    However the entrance that is performed as the first access to the story plays a crucial part in the development of An Inspector Calls. Inspector Goole is the first uninvited character to enter in the engagement party and to ruin the pleasant scene. The Inspectors entrance is a very tragic entrance that takes place in the beginning of the play. It happens when an engagement ceremony has undergone and is interrupted by the Inspector. Mr Birling however is not disturbed by the presence of the Inspector as he is expecting a ‘warrant warning’ instead there is a different story portrayed.

    The Inspector obstructs the uneasy conversation between Gerald and Eric also involving Mr Birling that then leads to a confused and a frantic Birling family. The Inspector who at first glance ‘creates an impression of massiveness’ gives an bitter look as a sigh of giving discomfort before he approaches the person who is being investigated. At first the Inspector is spoken with short phrases to suggest an Inspector ‘of solidity’ and then the reason of his appearance is conveyed with a lengthily speech and is heard with an aggressive manner that immediately relates to the tough inspector.

    When Mr Birling is willing to ask about the connection between this ‘suicide of course’ and himself, the Inspector ‘cuts trough massively’ which creates some form of tension towards the audience showing that the Inspector makes his own roles! Before the arrival of the Inspector, there was a conversation about Eric and his drinking problems that later on his shown playing a big part in the investigation. The timing of the entrance is performed in a way to show an anti-climax situation where the audiences are impatiently watching the argument beginning to conclude into a rift is suddenly stopped by the Inspector.

    This created a stimulating jolt and so meant that the anti-climax situation was a build of pressure. In contrast the entrance of the Inspector at the end of act one, is more of an anxious wait. The Inspector is now waiting to question Gerald. The audience now eagerly wants to know the link between the changed name of Daisy Renton and Gerald. The audience however know that Gerald is engaged to Sheila and that Sheila has just found out that Gerald and Daisy Renton had a relationship together in the ‘last spring and summer. ‘

    The atmosphere of the play with the entrance of the inspector has a drastic change that indicates the play to continue with a different subject. The entrance of the inspector is deliberately put on the end to show an eager wait for the next act to be performed, as the timing of the action is perfect. The gestures and facial expressions create a climax that is a build of a confused atmosphere. As the Inspector entrances he is ‘looking steadily and searching at them’ that certainly instigates a symbolic entrance by the Inspector.

    So overall this entrance by the Inspector creates an exciting atmosphere. The next dramatic entrance, in my opinion is the most gripping one that can put an audience in great stimulus. This is not the last entrance of the play but it is the entrance by the last suspected culprit, ‘Eric’ that is to be questioned by the Inspector that can lead to the final conclusion of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton’s suicide attack. The entrance takes place right at the end of act two, once again leaving the audience in great amazement and eagerness. The audience have just heard Mrs.

    Birling ‘being prejudice’ against the young lady who has confessed that she is pregnant and that the husband was ‘silly, wild and drinks too much. ‘ The audience is now beginning to indicate the phrases and descriptions of this ‘husband’ to Eric. Sheila has understood but Mrs. Birling is continuously accusing the ‘drunken young idler’ despite being interrupted by Sheila on regular intervals. The facial expressions conveyed show a great dismay. Birling is ‘thunderstruck’ by the information that has been concluded by Mrs. Birling herself.

    The behaviour of the characters, the tone of their voice, gestures and expressions all combine together to form a sequence of ‘dramatic tension. ‘ The stage directions that convey his entrance is portrayed in a nail-biting climax as he ‘meets their enquiry stares’ show a stimulating phrase of the action. By the entrance of Eric it has let the play move in to a subject concerning Eric and what role he had to play in this ‘murder. ‘ ‘The curtain falls quickly’ As the Inspector takes his leave in Act 3, there is the final entrance of the play.

    The entrance takes place by the ‘fianci?? ‘ of Sheila, Gerald. As Edna welcomes Gerald, the atmosphere of the scene has a drastic change. By the entrance of Gerald the family conversation has changed from the money stealing from Eric to the suspicious manner and behaviour of the Inspector. The audience is now hungry to hear what Gerald has to say and what his new information may lead to the conclusion of An Inspector Calls. The play now develops with the involvement of Gerald and what the views of each of the characters are about the Inspector and his behaviour towards them.

    As Gerald entrances to question the Birling Family about the Inspector, the length and confidence in Gerald’s speech suggest a tension building atmosphere as the audience now know that Gerald knows something that no-one as of yet knows about the Inspector as the Birling Family all ‘inquiringly look at Gerald. ‘ So overall I think that entrances create a drastic change to the play and let the play progress with the involvement of the characters entrance. The audiences sometimes jolt and at other times they flow in with the entrance.

    As the entrance is being performed there is ‘dramatic tension’ created to either in the character’s speech, behaviour, and manners or in the stage directions to what the audience believes what is the most tension building. One of the most exciting exits is performed in the middle of Act 2 and is performed by Gerald who once again is in part of a significance part to the play. As the Inspector has just finished inquiring Gerald, a whole big secret is exposed which creates a shock of his own for the audience. Sheila who has been hit the most by the news is traumatised as she hears Gerald’s story of betrayal.

    Gerald departs from the play for a ‘walk about,’ however before he leaves Sheila gives him the engagement ring that was given to her by Gerald himself only a few minutes ago although Sheila now ‘respects him more’ than she has ever done. By Gerald’s exit there is a different mood given to the play. The atmosphere of the stage is rather a quiet and sad one as the reason of the ceremony has been abolished. The mood is shown changing as the stage directions convey the looks and sounds in a guarded way as Gerald exits and the Birling’s ‘watch him go in silence. ‘

    The timing of the action has been performed after Gerald has been inquired and before Mrs. Birling and Eric were being questioned of a possible suspect to the chain of events leading to the suicide of Eva Smith. Birling is shown consolidating Gerald by interrupting Sheila and talking about ‘lots of young men’ doing these kinds of things these days. Gerald’s exit symbolises that they maybe lots of secrets concealed inside every one of us. The last and most relieving exit for the Birling Family is the final dramatic exit of the play. This is performed by the Inspector in the middle of Act 3.

    The exit is portrayed in a dubious and peculiar manner that suggests a tense frame of mind. The Inspector summarises the effects of the ‘suicide murder’ with a long departing paragraph and ends it with the consequences of the incident as he teaches them a lesson in ‘blood and anguish. ‘ The Inspectors speech, gestures, stage directions, facial expressions and most of all the self-assured confidence in his speech intertwines together to build a tower of tension and relief. For the Birling Family it was a huge sigh of relief, in comparison to the audience, which related to them as a theatrical departure.

    The atmosphere of the play has a sudden change from an anxious investigation to a slightly casual mood. Earlier on, before the tense exit of the Inspector, Birling is trying a different method , a method of bribe which the Inspector thinks he is ‘offering money at the wrong time,’ however Birling can give ‘thousands-yes thousands. ‘ The stage directions evoke a confident exit that actually has some effect on both the audience and the characters. The play is then continued with feed back from the family members and also another entrance that changes the whole phase of the play.

    As for the exits, they make the audience feel sympathetic towards the character illustrating the exits. As Gerald takes his leave the audience are willing not for him to leave as for the Inspectors exit it wraps up the whole play and makes the play run on his intentions so when the main character exits from the play, there is a slight tension in the audience. The stage directions are interpreted as a confident exit which leads to a successful play involving exits that have a turning effect on the audience.

    So overall, the play can be classified as a success. One reason for this is the involvement of exits and entrances that create shock, jolt and maybe a form of relaxation. In my opinion I thought that the most dramatic exit or entrance is the entrance performed by Eric right at the end of Act 2. This is very significant entrance that is performed in a nail biting situation and that can put the audience in great enthusiasm. At the beginning of the play ‘An Inspector calls’ is introduced to a tranquil opening scene.

    In comparison, the closing scene is totally opposite to the opening scene as the closing scene shows the characters in a muddled and in a fearful mood and the atmosphere is uneasy. A point to be noted is that in the opening scene of the play the whole characters of the play (minus Edna and Inspector) are present for the ceremony and after so many dramatic exits and shocking entrances the same characters are shown in the closing scene but with a different mood, a mood of distress and mayhem as the chain of events has finally come to an end.

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    20th Century Drama – An Inspector Calls Essay. (2017, Oct 13). Retrieved from

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