J.B. Priestly keeps the audience interested in a variety of ways and uses a lot of different strategies; he uses a number of things to build up tension and then brings it back down again. The first thing that builds up the tension is the doorbell ringing after the inspector has left. The person at the door could be the inspector back again but then the person walking in is Gerald coming back from his walk. After finding this out the audience would relax again, and the atmosphere is neither relaxed nor tense. Gerald seems to enter the room quite triumphantly and he is also being quite mysterious “Hm – hm! They all look inquiringly at Gerald” He then goes on to say “slowly that man wasn’t a police officer.”
What is going through the audience’s head is a mixture of emotions, they are confused about what is going on, and why was the inspector a fake? What was his purpose for mimicking an inspector? All of these questions that never get answered! Once Gerald has told the rest of the characters what has happened he goes to ring up the infirmary. After he has finished this phone call he tells the rest of the characters what he has just heard on the other end of the telephone “No girl has died in there today. Nobody has been brought in after drinking disinfectant…” This then relaxes the atmosphere, and everyone starts thinking that it was all a hoax, and nothing really has happened. Then Sheila starts it up again by saying “it was anything but a joke. You knew it then. You began to learn something…” The way that Priestly is doing this is keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
He also interrupts the conversation with multiple ringing noises; the doorbell rings – but it is only Gerald, then Gerald rings up the infirmary, “No girl has died in there today. Nobody has been brought in after drinking disinfectant…”, then at the end the telephone “rings sharply”. This surprises the audience and holds them in suspense. As they don’t know who is calling until the call has ended. When all of the characters are back together at the end and they are all talking and they find out that no girl has died from committing suicide, they all begin to relax, the audience will relax too. Thinking that nothing happened, and then the play ends at a climax, and leaves you wondering.
“The telephone rings sharply. There is a moment silence. Birling goes to answer it.” After this Birling goes on to say, “That was the police. A girl has just died on her way to the Infirmary – after swallowing some disinfectant. And a police inspector is on his way here – to ask some – questions-“. Then the curtain falls, this leaves the audience wondering what is going to happen. As they leave the theatre they are thinking about the possibilities, maybe they are a little annoyed because they want to know what happened.
J.B. Priestley was a socialist. He believed that we were put on this earth to look after others and that it was our responsibility to look out for others around us. He wrote “An Inspector Calls” to share his views with others. In “An Inspector Calls”, it is quite obvious what Priestley’s aim was in writing this play, to show the audience through the characters’ enrolment in Eva Smith’s suicide and their individual responsibility towards other people. Arthur Birling is the kind of character who stands out from the rest, and the one that will be remembered. “A hard-headed business man” believing that society is as it should be and that nothing should or can change that. The rich stay rich, the poor stay poor.
The play was set in 1912; it being set at this time was a perfect opportunity for predictions, but also for a more drastic look at the relationship between the rich and the poor. In 1912 the difference between classes was much larger than the difference in 1946; this therefore made it more noticeable to the audiences. With the upper class, we have people that are like the families of Birling’s and Croft’s, who would seem to think that all members of the lower class are beneath them and other people of their class.
Mrs. Birling says to Mr. Birling “Arthur, you’re not supposed to say such things,” when he has just complimented the cook, the cook being a member of the lower class, her saying this is meaning that she believes the lower class people are there to serve the upper class and therefore not to be thanked or complimented. Mr. Birling believes that “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own”.
Priestley has written this play purposely making Birling’s views false. Birling’s confidence in the predictions he makes – that the Titanic is “unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable”, that “The Germans don’t want a war. Nobody wants a war”. Priestley makes every one of the predictions Birling makes wrong as the audience knows that the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, World War one broke out two years after the play was set so that the audience see him as a very bold man with lots to say, but he rarely makes sense. Everything that Birling says seems to be very lecture type, as though he isn’t speaking to his family or friends but as though he is talking to work colleagues or people he is giving a speech to.
In writing this play Priestley has also aimed to show the huge contrast between the inspector’s personality and that of Mr. Birling’s. All of Birling’s predictions are wrong whereas the inspector predicts that if people don’t learn their responsibilities, they will be taught in “fire and blood and anguish”. The lessons of World War I weren’t learnt so the same mistakes were made and another war started. Sixty years on and the same mistakes made have caused war after war. The message that Priestley was sending out to the audience then is just as relevant to the present day. Mr Birling is more concerned about his reputation and an upcoming public scandal rather than the wellbeing of Eva. “…who here will suffer…more than I will?”
The aims of Priestley when he wrote this play, I believe, were to make everyone think; especially the audience the play was being performed to, to make us question our own personality and what we believed in. He wanted to show us that we can change, and we can decide which views we choose to take and what options we decide to make. I think that Priestley wanted to make a difference; not a world changing drastic difference, but a small difference in the way people think. It would have changed people’s views on society, however small those changes would be, and so Priestley achieved his aims in writing the play