An Inspector Calls Essay
How does Priestley build the drama and tension in this extract?
The extract is from page 47 starting ‘MRS B: I’m sorry she should have come to such a horrible end. But I accept no blame for this at all’
In this extract, JB Priestley builds drama and tension through the use of dramatic irony. Mrs Birling does not realise until the very end of the scene that her own son is responsible for Eva Smith’s pregnancy. However, Sheila and the audience begin to realise this before her. So, when she says things like ‘I blame the young man of the child she was going to have’, we realise that she is unknowingly incriminating herself and her son. This makes it tense and exciting, because we want to see what will happen when she eventually does realise that the person she is being so harsh on is her own son.
In this extract, JB Priestley also builds up drama and tension through having Sheila realise the truth of the situation long before her mother. Sheila is constantly interrupting trying to explain to her mother that by blaming the father of the child she is only blaming her own son. For example, she says ‘Mother-stop-stop!’ and ‘But don’t you see-‘ As well as her words, the stage directions show that she is getting increasingly ‘agitated’ and ‘hysterical’ in attempting to warn her mother about what is happening.
This is very tense and dramatic because Mr and Mrs Birling misinterpret her words and just assume that she is overexcited; this is consolidated through the use of imperatives, which connotes Sheila’s desperation to be listened to. They assume she is being silly, when in fact she is the closest of all of the Birling family to true insight at this point.