The Interest of An Audience

The Inspector’s language during Act 1 is very interesting, as he never lets other people take control of the conversation by interrupting them before they get a chance to develop it.

For instance, when Gerald and Sheila are about to engage in an argument the Inspector interrupts with “never mind that. You can settle that between you afterward.” This frustrates and displeases some members of the Birling family but it does allow the Inspector to have complete control of every conversation he takes place in.Also throughout Act 1 the Inspector the inspector uses harsh lexis like “burnt her insides out” when describing what the disinfectant did to her, and “It’s too late. She’s dead” when Sheila says that if she could she would “help her now.” Moreover, the Inspector says these lies in a subtle tone adding to the shock factor because if he said them in a stern tone of voice then it would not seem as extreme. I believe he does this to attempt to make the Birlings feel even guiltier for the behaviour that they have taken and that maybe they will be more caring with their actions in the future.

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Another interesting technique that the Inspector uses, is that he never actually tells the family what they have done, instead he somehow makes them confess to their deeds themselves. The finest example of this is when the Inspector points out that Eva was fired from her job at Milwards because a customer had complained, and when Sheila saw the photograph of the girl, she instantly knew that it was her that had complained and got Eva fired. But the inspector doesn’t tell any one this, instead he waits for Sheila to confess to the rest of the family, when she came back into the room and she asks “you knew it was me all along didn’t you Inspector?”These three techniques using language and lexis generate tension as he comes across as omniscient and even supernatural, because he knows things that he can’t possibly know. A good example of this is when he makes Sheila admit to getting Eva fired, and then he just says he “had a good idea.” But how could he possibly have known it was Sheila because even if she wrote about it in her diary Eva would still not have known Sheila’s name.

Overall I believe that J.B. Priestley has conveyed his view of socialism expertly by making the Birling’s realise that it was all their actions that practically forced Eva Smith to take her own life. Usually this moral subject would be an uninteresting issue, but because Priestley was such a high-quality playwright, by using dramatic tension and interesting language techniques he manages to express his view of socialism across skilfully as well as keeping the reader or audience, whichever way you are experiencing the play, extremely intrigued.

 This essay was graded B+ by my teacher so with a few alterations could easily be upgraded to an A standard.