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I believe that “An Inspector Calls is a successful play because all audiences enjoy suspense and tension, and in this story they run rampant. The tense atmosphere and great pace means that the audience never gets bored. The feelings from the characters can be related to real life and this makes the play that bit more believable. The issues in the play are also issues of today, the prejudice and social class, mean a lot in the play and to some extent they also appear in modern day life.
The rich expect different treatment from those of lower classes and also expect a different set of laws. The way the inspector talks to the Birling’s and to Gerald Croft brings them down to a different level to the one that they are used to. The inspector questions things that Mr Birling thinks are not for him to question. Mr Birling: …. I refused of course Inspector: Why? Mr Birling (surprised): did you say ‘why’? The inspector, it seems, will not be intimidated by Mr Birling. Mr Birling: How do you get on with our Chief constable, Colonel Roberts? Inspector: I don’t see much of him.
Mr Birling: Perhaps I ought to warn you that he’s an old friend of mine, and that I see him fairly regularly. …….. Inspector (dryly): I don’t play golf. This shows that the inspector means business and will not be threatened off the case. This conflict runs through the play and the audience is awed by the way that the inspector coolly and calmly handles the investigation. He has an aura of mystery about him that audiences love. The name Goole, could be a clever trick on words, Goole sounds the same as Ghoul. One meaning a supernatural beast and the other a simple name.
This theory fits in with the content of the play, the inspector is not intimidated by threats, each line of enquiry has a result, this is incredible – almost as if he knew what they were going to say, as Sheila notes Sheila (slowly): We hardly ever told him anything that he didn’t know. Did you notice that? It is almost as if the inspector has been sent from the future to show the Birling’s the error of their ways. Sheila points out again; Sheila (passionately): You’re pretending everything’s just as it is before. And Sheila: I tell you – whoever that inspector was it was far from a joke.
You knew it then. You began to learn something. And now you’ve stopped………. The inspector wrenches them from their cosy world and shows them a bit of the real world. None of the family (Except the younger generation) knows what their town is really like, as Mrs Birling exclaims; Mrs Birling (staggered): Well, really! Alderman Meggarty! I must say, we are learning something tonight. The atmosphere also has a large influence on the audience. It fluctuates greatly from being light and airy when they are celebrating to when the inspector is questioning and during the final part it is dark and sombre.
This has a very dramatic effect and compels you to continue reading the play if you are watching the play unfold before you the effect, I expect, is magnified. Most plots have one twist but this play has several. The audience is enthralled that a respectable middle class family could be responsible for such a death. The audience waits patiently for the inspector to implicate and arrest one but much to their surprise he implicates all of them in the suicide, each accusation getting worse from firing her as an employee to being impregnated by a young drunkard.
This fact means that the audience gradually build up their suspense for the final character Eric. But another twist is evoked and the inspector does not arrest anybody. The final twist though is the greatest. As the play draws to a close, the phone rings it is the Police Station phoning to say that a young girl has just died and that an inspector will be over to ask a few questions. This is ironic in the extreme, the play has come full circle and is about to start all over again it seems. Any thing that keeps the audience waiting or does not expect, the audience likes and this final twist is certainly not expected.
Another factor to the written marvel that is this play is the timing of bells or the telephone. At the beginning of the play when Mr Birling is giving the two young boys some “good advice” he is interrupted by the arrival of the inspector. Mr Birling (solemnly): …….. that a man has to mind his own business and look after his own – and – We hear the sharp ring of a frond door bell. BIRLING stops to listen. It is ironic that Mr Birling is saying that every “man has to mind of his own business” and should look after himself.
The inspector makes them see other people’s problems and not just there own. Each of the characters are implicated, this is ironic because they all say that they had nothing to/or to do with the girl. It is also ironic that Mrs Birling implicates her son. Mrs Birling(severely):…. And if you’d take some steps to find this young man and then make sure that he is compelled to confess in public his responsibility- instead of staying here asking unnecessary questions – then you would really be doing your duty. ………..Mrs Birling (understanding now):
But surely… I mean…. it’s ridiculous The whole play is set in one room. This means that the characters have to focus on the characters because there is no new scene for their eyes to explore. As a result they can get an understanding of the characters that some other plays don’t allow, the audience feels that they are a part of events – they can relate to images and ideas explored in the play and so this makes the play that bit more vivid and exciting. It is for these reasons that the play is so successful.
There are many topics that can be related to today’s life, this provokes thoughts from the audience that they would not otherwise had. The characters in the play are easy to relate to and are a masterful creation, because of this the story is easy to follow and involving for the audience. The plot has been written so that things you expect to happen, happen, but they still surprise you, and things that you as the audience don’t expect to happen still happen. All of these things contribute to a beautifully crafted and thought out play and this makes it one of my favorites.