Dramatic Devices in the Priestley's Play “An Inspector Calls”

Drama is the best way to attract the reader and audience. The author used many dramatic devices which reflect his good and unique style in writing.

“An Inspector Calls” is a play written by J.B Priestley in 1945 describing all the miserable and inequity life of poor people in 1912 “two years before the first world war”. Firstly, this is considered as a dramatic irony because the audience know that Mr. Birling’s first speech is totally wrong and full of inaccuracies. This exemplifies that Mr. Birling is a foolish man.

There is another example of dramatic irony in Act 2 when Mrs. Birling told inspector Goole that he mustn’t blame her for not helping the girl. All the blame must be on baby’s father. “First, the girl herself, secondly the young man who got her into trouble”. This shows that Mrs. Birling doesn’t know that this young man is her son “Eric “ which attracts the audience more and more to the play to see how Mrs. Birling will react upon discovering the truth. Eric the boy who seems to be un-normal in the play “Eric suddenly guffaws” .This is dramatic, as it made the audience predict that there is something will be known about Eric later on. J.B Priestly used old-fashioned language as “guffaws” to make the audience feel that they are in 1912.

Another theme of drama in Act 1 in the beginning of the play, the light of the house was pink which reflects the happiness of Mr. Birling family. They were happy and talking with each other until the inspector arrived, the light changed to be brighter and harder. Such change drew the attention of the audience and made them asking, what is the importance of this visit? Also the entrance and exiting of the characters are dramatic. For example, the time when Mr. Goole arrived is reflecting an amazing dramatic scene as he arrived when Mr. Birling was saying that everyone must care only about himself and don’t care about anyone “A man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own”. The word “own” shows how much Mr. Birling’s character is selfish. This made the audience wondering why Mr. Goole arrived in such specific time. Also Eric who leaves and arrives at a key moments as in Act 3, when he entered exactly at the same time as his mother realized that the young boy is her son Eric.

Choosing the name of Inspector Goole is significant because the language of “Goole” is homophone of Ghoul. This made the audience to think that he is not real. This is inherently dramatic. Inspector Goole is a man who came to teach the Birling’s family lessons about being responsible for their actions, inspector Goole is a self-confident man. When he talks, he uses powerful language as in Act 1, he told Mr. Birling “it is my duty to ask questions”. This implies how much he is a self-confident man which again surprised the audience that he could stood up to the attempts of Mr. Birling to stop his investigations.

When Inspector Goole was asking the family questions about Eva Smith, he showed the picture to everyone on his turn. This made the audience asking themselves if the picture that he showed to the characters in turn is the same or different pictures and this is dramatic.

Conflicts and heated arguments that took place after the departure of Goole created drama. As when Inspector Goole went, everyone in Birling’s family lost the trust in each other. This scene highlighted how he succeeded to make the Birling’s family confessing and admitting about everything.

Act 3 is the most dramatic act in the play as it is full of extra ordinary drama. There were lots of surprises revealed when Mr. Birling made a call and asked if there is any inspector called Goole. Immediately we exemplified that there is no inspector Goole and this man was not an Inspector. This made all the audience asking themselves a lot of questions especially who is this man and who is Eva smith?

When Mr. Birling knew that there was no suicides and there is no inspector called Goole, he began to laugh and he said “I have never been so happy…to have been had” also he began to make fun of Eric and Sheila telling them “I wish you could have seen the look of your faces”. This reflected that Mr. Birling doesn’t care if the woman is dead or not. All what he cares about is his name and reputation. This was highlighted when he said in Act 3 to Inspector Goole “I would give thousands “.

Finally, in Act 3 before Inspector Goole leaves, he told the Birling’s family using an emotive language “But just remember this there are millions and millions of Eva smiths still left with us, with their lives and hopes and fears”. He used such impressive language as he wanted to teach the Birling’s family and all other similar people that, they don’t live alone on earth and they mustn’t care only about themselves. This fantastic scene made all the audience and readers to start criticizing themselves and to think about how poor people live. In the end of Act 3 the final phone call announcing that “A girl has just died on her way to the infirmary after swallowing some disinfectant. And a police Inspector is on his way to ask us some questions”. The audience were confused because there wasn’t any use of euphemism language in the call. The telephone call made the characters, the audience and readers to think if the girl that has just died is Eva smith herself, if the inspector who is coming is Goole himself and if the characters were all talking about the same girl,. Did you ever imagine a very dramatic ending like this?

The ending of the play is too dramatic as J. B Priestley left the audience and the readers at a cliffhanger, they wanted to know what is next, who is Inspector Goole and if Daisy Renton, Eva smith are the same girl or not. This mysterious end clearly describes his impressive way and fantastic style in such kind of plays writing. Instead of reaching the resolution or the expected denouement, the dramatist restored drama and tension and left everyone crest fallen.  

07 July 2022
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