In this playing I will be exploring how Priestley makes this moment in the play so dramatic and significant. The Inspector has just left the Birling’s all thunderstruck and traumatized, each of them handling it in different ways. As Gerald walks in it has come clear to us that the older generation are set in their ways and do not hesitate to even think about what the Inspector has told them, yet are stuck with their selfish ways. It is evident that Mr and Mrs Birling are embarrassed of Gerald finding out of what the Inspector has unearthed about what they have all done. ‘He put us all through it –‘ then Mr Birling cutting in ‘Sheila!
Cutting Sheila off mid-sentence shows how Mr Birling is extremely humiliated and does not want Gerald to know what has just happened. He is too busy in caring about his reputation and getting his knighthood than even consider a word of what the Inspector has just said. ‘ (hastily) now – now – we needn’t bother him with all that stuff’ The pauses through the hyphens intimates Birling’s loss of power. Also the change in tone symbolises Mr Birling weakening making this a significant moment in the paly.
Using the lexis ‘stuff’ proves to us that Mr Birling thinks very little of the situation and is quick to try and hide what happened. Priestley uses revelation to make this part in the play more dramatic. Gerald slowly getting to the point and surprising the Birling’s that Inspector Goole wasn’t a real police Inspector; in fact he is ‘A fake! ’ Mr and Mrs Birling attitudes swiftly change from ‘(hastily)’ and ‘(warningly)’ to ‘(triumphantly)’ and ‘(excitedly)’ where as for Sheila and Eric their attitudes do not change for they still have the pejorative and shameful thoughts from the Inspector’s words.
This creates conflict between the younger generation (Sheila and Erica) and the older generation (Mr and Mrs Birling). The younger generation still seeing what they have done as immoral but the older generation thinking their off the hook and that ‘it makes all the difference’.
The inspector has obviously left his remark on Sheila and Eric “(bitterly) I suppose we’re all nice people now,” Through the speech and stage directions it is clear Sheila and Eric feel guilt and responsibility, however this guilt and sense of responsibility is abruptly ignored by their parents ‘if you’ve nothing more sensible than that to say, Sheila, you’d better keep quite’ Mr and Mrs Birling are delighted to discover that “that fellow was a fraud” and has not come to think about and claim the responsibility of what has happened.
Mrs Birling was shocked by the way the Inspector was speaking to her and the rest of the family ‘the rude way he spoke to Mr Birling and me – it was quite extraordinary’ It is evident that their reaction to the Inspector and his interrogation is left Mrs Birling bewildered, as though she could not possibly expect a police Inspector to have any cause to speak with one of their status. This creating a more dramatic scene because Mrs Birling quite clearly hated the way Inspector Goole spoke to Mrs Birling, and she hated it.