Dramatic irony Essay
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The Inspector makes Mrs Birling expand on what should be done to the boy and Mrs Birling not realising what has happened by linking together the parts carries on, the Inspector asks, ‘So he’s the chief culprit anyhow?’ and Mrs Birling replies, ‘Certainly. And he ought to be dealt with very severely-.’ It is now, if the audience hadn’t already worked it out from when Mrs Birling about the father being a drunk, her realising from others Eric’s a drunk, and the Inspector wanting Eric to stay so he could see him later, that we realise from Sheila’s dramatic ‘Mother-stop-stop!’ Eric’s the father.
It is such a dramatic moment, there is suspense and tension; it shocks the audience and yet Mr and Mrs Birling still don’t see Eric as the father and tell Sheila to be quiet.
Mrs Birling doesn’t stop, she’s already spoken about how the father should be made an example of and she on basically saying what should be done to her son, ‘make sure he’s compelled to confess in public his responsibility.’ The Inspector too confirms what she has said asks again if she is sure that that should happen, she agrees, it is then she realises, the penny drops, it’s Eric. She’s shocked. Mrs Birling has, in other words, told the Inspector that her son is responsible, should be made an of and confess in public without even knowing it.
She has convicted her own son. This is dramatic irony as we, the audience have realised it was Eric and she’s carried on sentencing him. She has matters worse, which she will eventually regret. This is such a dramatic part of the play, she has condemned her own son to the blame and also without realising killed her own grandchild ‘I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it….’- She will believe it.
The next dramatic moment is shorter in length but still or even more, dramatic. This is the moment at the end when the Inspector has left and everyone is left questioning what has happened. After the Inspector has left the family start blaming one another for the girl’s death. It is after this that Sheila, first of all and then the others question the Inspector’s existence ‘It’s queer-very queer-‘.
When Sheila says this Mrs Birling seems to understand what Sheila’s thinking ‘I know what your going to say. Because I’ve been wondering myself,’ to which Sheila replies, ‘It doesn’t matter now, of course-but was he really a police inspector?’ Sheila and Eric don’t think it matters but Mr and Mrs Birling clearly think it does, ‘Well, if he wasn’t, it matters a devil of a lot.’ It’s clear that the younger generation, Sheila and Eric, have very different views form that of their parents.
Sheila and Eric do not feel that it matters if the Inspector wasn’t a police inspector, it’s what they have all done that is the important part, they’ve killed a woman, ‘He was our Inspector alright.’-Eric. Gerald then returns and tells them that he has found out that the Inspector was not a real police inspector. Although they had their doubts this puzzles everyone. Gerald then has idea that all that had happened wasn’t to the same girl. To confirm his thoughts he rings up the infirmary and asks if there is anyone who has committed suicide by drinking disinfectant. There is no girl. Everyone apart from Sheila and Eric are relieved and act if nothing has happened, Sheila and Eric question the way they behaved but Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald don’t care. Just when they are trying to forget, the phone rings.
The drama starts when Gerald rings the Infirmary. There is a tense wait for us to know whether there is a girl, to which all this happened to, or if the things Mr and Mrs Birling, Sheila, Gerald and Eric did was all to one girl. The characters’ actions add to the tension we sustain, for example Birling wiping his brow, Sheila shivering and Eric clasping and un-clasping his hands, showing their nerves. ‘No girl has died in there today. Nobody’s been brought in after drinking disinfectant. They haven’t had a suicide for months.’ We are lulled into believing it is over; that the suspense has ended and there is nothing more to happen. Mr and Mrs Birding and Gerald are relieved but it is only Sheila and Eric that keep in consideration what they have done and actually seriously think about what has happened, Sheila ‘But you’re forgetting one thing I still can’t forget.
Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.’ This just shows the difference of the natures of the characters. Sheila shows herself as being concerned and truly sorry for what she has done, as well as Eric. However, Gerald, Mr Birling and Mrs Birling show the totally opposite view on what has happened, they come across as selfish, cruel and arrogant people from the way they behave. An example of this is when Mr Birling says, ‘The whole story was a lot of moonshine. Nothing but an elaborate sell!’ Sheila says how disgusted she is with their behaviour, Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald carrying on not caring. Gerald tries to get Sheila back into thinking of the wedding ‘Everything all right now Sheila. What about the ring.’
This is a prime example of Gerald’s attitude towards what has happened. Sheila-‘No, not yet. It’s too soon. I must think.’ Mr Birling then says something very ironic. After all that he and his wife, the older generation, have done and the way they have acted towards this situation (terribly), he turns round and comments on the younger generation, who are clearly more sensible, caring and altogether better, and says ‘Now look at the pair of them-the famous younger generation who know it all. And can’t even take a joke’. This is in response to Sheila saying no to Gerald, it is very ironic. It is now that it happens, the most dramatic part of the play. The Phone rings. It rings sharply, immediately we think the worst, is it? Has a girl been found in the same situation as Eva Smith? The actions of the characters, their moment of complete silence is very tense.
Mr B. answers the phone; he talks slowly dragging the moment on. His actions are slow intensifying; he slowly puts down the phone. He looks in a panic stricken fashion at the others. The audience knows what is about to come but are still waiting for it to be confirmed. Mr Birling confirms our thoughts; a police inspector is on his way as a girl has just died after swallowing some disinfectant. This ending is very, very powerful. It changes the nature of the play as it becomes a mystery-who was the inspector? It becomes cyclical and therefore spiritual-how many more times will it happen? Will it start again when the inspector arrives? ‘An Inspector Calls’ with its dramatic moments is a very powerful play. It has skilful climaxes and wonderful twists to the plot. It is a very enjoyable play that always keeps you on edge.