This is emotive language and will set the audience to amazement in Sheila’s part in this because the character does not seem to do that type of thing. At this period in time women were treated as “second” class citizens as this was before the suffragette movement. Women did not have the vote or financial equality in the workplace and it was difficult for women to secure a good standard of living independently of men usually through a “good” marriage or parent’s wealth.
This illustrates the difference in circumstances between Sheila and Eva. Sheila enjoys upper-class wealth and protection, whereas Eva has to maintain herself and has no family wealth or husband to fall back on. This serves to highlight that Sheila’s pampered background has not given her any perspective on the consequences of her actions, and that the influence of class and wealth in 1912 was a very strong influence on the daily lives of working-class people.
The reactions of Gerald and Eric also play a decisive role in the changing of the mood from relaxed to tense for instance when Eric asks “Can I go to bed” and then is advised against it by the Inspector this leaves the audience in anticipation to see what Eric’s involvement is in this debacle. This gives the audience an impression of a secret hidden from his family, which he does not want them to find out.
Gerald’s reaction with seeing the Inspector also gives the impression that he has something to hide as well as Eric “Look here, sir, wouldn’t you rather I was out of this” He is attempting to abscond at the earliest opportunity. Furthermore at the end of the act, when Gerald and Sheila are alone he begs her to keep a secret from the Inspector Then the curtain falls leaving the end of the act on a cliff-hanger keeping the audience bubbling with excitement and anticipation. This builds up a lot of tension, hence the cliffhanger.
The lighting in a theatre can be very symbolic and significant in the play adding tension, fear, comedy and so on. For instance in “An Inspector Calls” at the start of the play there is a dim pink light to aid the celebration and relaxed atmosphere, the mood is jolly. But the minute the Inspector arrives the illumination changes to a “harsh bright light” which symbolises a change in the mood and heightens interrogation. This is also an indicator for the audience that tension is building and something is about to erupt; the story is keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
Therefore in conclusion Priestly has introduced tension before the inspector arrives on stage with a “half playful- half serious” tone representing a hint of tension. The superficial “relaxed” dinner party is rapidly destabilized when the inspector arrives. He smashes the sense of false security and tries to get the Birling’s to realize their errors and admit responsibility. The Birling’s symbolize a microcosm of civilization at the time (1910), and clearly illustrate the class system in Britain at that time.
In particular, Mr Birling’s anticipatory conversation with Gerald regarding his ‘knighthood’, and the social suitability of the impending marriage highlights his social climbing aspirations. Priestley wrote the play in nineteen-forty-five at the end of World War two, and he wanted to commentate on all the things that have happened. Since 1910 such as the Titanic, and to show how much two world wars have changed society and the woman’s role in life. He also portrays a deeper message he wants to advocate a sense of community- people looking after each other.