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But from early on in the play, the audience would have got the gist of the whole family being involved, as clues are given as to who is up next in the line of enquiry. Before each character is questioned, they leave the room and then return just at the point we find out who is up for questioning. This sense of knowing in advance who is next for inspection, creates drama to the audience, as they desire to find out why the next person is involved and who ultimately led Eva Smith to her early deathbed.
The continuous use of cliffhangers in the play at the end of every act helps to build up the drama, as every act ends on a dramatic note with the audience on the edges of their seats. When the curtains drops, the audience wait impatiently for the next act and this technique holds their interest in the play. The cliffhanger that the play ends on sets in well with the twist. Priestley decides to finish at the most dramatic part of the play. This is when they all discover that the Inspector was a hoaxer. This then sets of a sigh of relief within the audience and on stage. Everybody has now taken this in and they all feel that the Inspector fooled us all.
Mr. Birling, Mrs. Birling and Gerald were already to forget about the whole thing and move on with their lives. They wanted to blank out what they did and not care about how their actions affected Eva as the Inspector wasn’t a real Inspector. On the other hand Sheila and Eric weren’t that quick to forget because they knew despite the Inspector wasn’t real, they all still treated and affected Eva Smith so much that they should now realise what they did, why it was wrong and be thankful that they won’t be turned into the police. As the play continues with a real Inspector to arrive, the audience are left thinking will they tell the truth or will they lie? They have a feeling that Sheila and Eric will be truthful but know that the other suspects will lie. The audience knows that this will create so much conflict between them now.
The audience believe that this is the climax of the night but when the telephone rings and Mr. Birling answers, there is a long pause. This in effect causes a build up in tension the longer the pause carries on. The entire audience is puzzled to what is going on and they yearn to find out. After this hold up on the telephone is over, the final twist is let loose for the night. The audience at this point has now found out that a real Inspector is to visit the Birling household to enquire about a suicide that has just taken place. The curtains are dropped for the final time and the audience is left to their imaginations. This magnificent ending tops up the drama and all sorts of questions are left racing though the minds of the audience. Will they release this burden lying upon them or will they lay though their teeth to save themselves?
The actual moral behind the storyline should have made an impression on them. The message Priestley puts across is that no matter who we are or what class we are from, we must pull together as a community and take responsibility for one another. He also states that we are all equal and we should treat each other equally. Through his play, Priestley shows the audience how some people to do not abide this message and the characters that don’t are Mr. and Mrs. Birling whom are of the older generation.
They both take no notice of anybody from the working class and they are both critical of other people’s behavior (even when talking about a dead person) but they never seem to take a look at their own. They talk of Eva Smith as if she deserved what she got and they discriminate her and other girls of her class and not are sorry one bit: Mrs. Birling – ‘I don’t suppose for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class-‘
Here in Mrs. Birling’s speech her daughter Sheila interrupts her speech: Sheila – ‘Mother, don’t – please don’t. For your won sake and ours, you mustn’t-‘ Sheila, the wiser young lady she becomes, knows that her mother is being prejudiced and disrespectful towards the woman they all pushed into taking her own life. She knows her mother is not one bit sorry or doesn’t regret her actions towards Eva. But Sheila won’t let her mother say what she thinks as she would be terribly embarrassed by her mother’s cold hearted thoughts about Eva. Sheila herself on the other hand regrets what she had said and done to Eva and that she would change it if she could.
If you notice in the play the younger generation, which consists of Sheila and Eric, show sympathy to Eva and feel responsible for her death and accept it, unlike Mr. and Mrs. Birling. They don’t accept any guilt or responsibility because they believe Eva brought it on herself. This shows that the younger generation is more considerate despite the fact Eva was from a different class. This divide in class is not seen as a barrier to them. Whereas the older generation of the family feels that because Eva was from a lower class, they had to disregard her straight away, as she has no meaning or effect to their lives at all.
In the last act we see the Inspector give his final speech which sums up Priestley’s message: Inspector – ‘One Eva Smith has Gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smith’s and John Smith’s still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and their fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all interwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.’
Priestley uses the Inspector’s character to tell the other characters and the audience that everybody including the older generation needs to bring down the class barriers and work as one community. Also in the Inspector’s last speech he clearly states last we should learn from our mistakes and in the future make sure we do things right because we can’t afford to keep on making these mistakes again and again after all the damage they cause.
Looking back over the play, Priestley creates drama between the Inspector and all the suspects. When the Inspector makes them recall their actions to Eva he shines a light on their proceedings, which they do not like and don’t want to accept. Some of the characters own up and accept but some characters don’t and continue to fight the truth of what the Inspector says. The drama created in the play helps to deliver the message across, especially when Mrs. Birling doesn’t accept her actions to have been wrong and hadn’t led Eva to her death. Priestley shows to the audience that people like this need to change and thus the moral of the play attacks the upper class and their attitudes towards lower class.