As director, I think that Eric should appear to be slightly angry and maybe jealous at Gerald’s relationship with his father, whilst Gerald shows his happiness of being accepted by his future father-in-law with a smile on his face. The Inspector’s entrance is timed deliberately by Priestley, with the ‘sharp ring of the front door bell’ heard just as Birling expresses his philosophy that “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own”. The significance of the timing is not realised until later on in the play when Gerald and the Birling family look back on the night’s events.
To emphasise on the entrance of the Inspector, one of the ‘cranks’ Birling was talking about, I would have the sharp ring to be loud and echoing to show that his arrival is a crucial point in the play. As he enters I would have a spotlight on the Inspector to show his importance and to create suspense in the audience. It seems odd that the characters do not pick up on the unusual name of the Inspector, Goole, although Birling says that he has not heard of him before.
Being an obvious pun on ‘ghoul’, the audience would immediately pick up on his name and take it as a sign of the unusual things to come in the play, instantly thinking about who or what he is. Creating an impression of ‘massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’ the characters feel bit wary of the Inspector. Although they are surprised at his sudden appearance in the middle of their celebration, Birling doesn’t really think much of his arrival “It may be something about a warrant” and even jokes about it being for anything important with Gerald, “Unless Eric’s been up to something”.
As Gerald says this I would have him glancing at Eric with a smile and then nodding confidently over at Birling. Meanwhile Eric should look uncomfortable, giving away looks of his nervousness as he quickly glances at his father and Gerald, unaware that they haven’t noticed how tense and jumpy he has suddenly become. This gives the audience an idea that Eric has definitely been up to something which will be revealed later on. As the Inspector informs them of Eva, “burnt her inside out, of course”, I would have him say it slowly and calmly, looking straight at Birling, to observe his reaction.
Like many of his methods of questioning, this method of speaking weightily and looking hard at the person he addresses seems to be a rather unusual thing to do, compared to what other police officers do. Also, the Inspector always appears to have control over the character he is questioning, often making them say something that they intended to hide from him, drawing things out of them. He gives the impression that he already knows what they are going to say, “I think you remember Eva Smith, don’t you, Mr B0irling? ” knowing that he does recognize Eva and is waiting for Birling to tell him.
Another unusual method the Inspector uses is to follow “one line of enquiry at one time”, which seems to annoy the characters. In particular, Gerald becomes irritated with the Inspector when he hides the photo from him whilst showing Birling. To emphasise this, I would have the Inspector standing opposite Birling, side on to the audience, with his arm stretched out showing the photo. Gerald and Eric should be facing the audience, standing behind birling and the inspector, peering over the inspector’s arm to see the photo.
As they try to look, the Inspector should immediately lower his arm slightly and interject himself between Gerald and Birling. The reason the Inspector gives is that “otherwise, there’s a muddle”. Priestly makes use of dramatic skill as this scene is referred to later on in the play as Gerald questions his reasons, when he realises that by never allowing them to see the photo at the same time, the Inspector may have used several different photos. The next member of the family to be implicated is Sheila who enters the room to find out why Birling didn’t come up to the drawing room and is told of Eva’s horrible suicide.
After recognising the photograph the Inspector shows her, Sheila becomes distressed and ‘gives a half-stifled sob and then runs out’. On having calmed down, she returns to the dining room and tells the inspector of how she knew Eva. As she speaks I would have her walking around a bit, fidgeting with her hands showing that she is uncomfortable with telling her story as she regrets it. To emphasise the fact that she is truly sorry and ashamed of her actions there should be a light on her. Sheila had insisted on trying on a dress although her mother and the shop assistant had been against it.
To show that she regrets her actions I would have her say “but I insisted” with remorse, also she would emphasise the word ‘I’ to show that she is angry with herself for what she has done. Sheila should have a distant look in her eyes now and then, showing the embarrassment of her jealousy. In her monologue she exposes herself to be a spoilt rich girl, making something out of nothing when she takes a small glance that Eva exchanges with the shop assistant, way out of proportion, becoming “absolutely furious” with them for no real reason, insisting Eva be sacked.
She was also unfortunate to assume Eva could take care of herself as “she was very pretty and looked as if she could take care of herself “, without knowing her situation her class or anything about her, making false assumptions due to the ideas of social class that her parents had brought her up on. The Birlings, like many other upper class Edwardian families, saw a lower class woman as “some miserable plain little creature”, rather than a human with feelings. Young girls like Eva were mistreated due to their vulnerable positions in society as young working class women reliant upon money from the superior upper class.
Priestley’s use of exits and entrances add to create dramatic effect and suspense, especially at the end of Act 2 when Eric walks in. Having previously felt agitated and restless Eric had quietly slipped out without anyone knowing, just after Gerald revealed his part in Eva/Daisy’s life and went out for a walk. When Eric walks in at the end of Act 2 he is looking ‘extremely pale and distressed’. To build up the tension we should be able to hear the front door slam loudly as Eric closes the door, and everyone should turn and look at him as he walks in with a bright spotlight on him.
As he stands there, his family should look at him, surprised and in shock at what they have just found out about him and his involvement with Eva. Mrs Birling would be on the verge of tears after blaming the baby’s father for everything without realising who he actually was, “he’s compelled to confess in public his responsibility”, and Mr Birling is too shocked for words that his own son could do something like getting a young woman pregnant. The Inspector should be standing there looking at Eric with a confident smile on his face, glad that everyone has finally been exposed.
They should all stand there in silence for a second before the curtain falls. Compared to the end of Act 1 where Gerald’s part in Eva’s life is about to be exposed, the ending of the second act is much more dramatic with extra tension between the characters. At the end if the first act we have established Mr Birling and Sheila’s involvement in Eva’s downfall and Gerald has given himself away the moment he heard the name ‘Daisy Renton’. This Act ends with just Sheila and Gerald in the room with the Inspector walking in just before the curtain falls.
In this way it contrasts the ending of the second Act in which everyone is in the room when Eric comes in, creating more tension after what they have heard about the kind of man Eric is. The Inspector’s last speech pulls together Priestley’s main themes in the play of guilt and responsibility towards others as a community. The Inspector should stand in the middle of the stage with a bright spotlight on him to make him stand out and lay emphasis on what he is saying.
He should start his speech by loudly saying “But just remember this”, to get everyone’s attention and then reverting back to his normal tone of voice. In this speech he uses persuasive techniques, mostly in the form of emotive language to put across his views and to persuade the audience of them. When he says “but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva smiths and John Smiths still left with us” the Inspector uses a list of three when he repeats ‘millions’ so that the audience understands just how many people can be affected by other people’s actions.
He makes the audience really think about their actions and how they affect others as he says “their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do”. Although Eric is the only one who has committed a crime in the legal sense, through these words that he uses the Inspector forces them to acknowledge they have committed a great wrong. Before he leaves, the Inspector warns them that if people cannot learn that “we are responsible for each other” then they will soon be taught it “in fire and blood and anguish”.
After finishing his speech, I would have the Inspector walk straight out without looking at anyone, leaving them to think about everything that has happened and what he just said. Following the Inspector’s exit it appears that everyone except Sheila and Eric have forgotten what the Inspector has just said or are ignoring it, with Mr Birling only worried about his reputation “there’ll be a public scandal”, concerned whether or not he is still getting his knighthood.
To direct this, I would have Eric slumped over in a chair, overcome by the night’s events, and Mr Birling standing over him and talking with anger and disgust towards his son. However when Gerald returns and tells them Inspector Goole was a fake, “By Jingo! A fake! ” he soon forgets to be angry and becomes happy that there will be no public scandal and is glad that he can forget everything and continue to live the way he was. The way Priestley ends the play is very cleverly done to leave the audience thinking about it long after it finished.
It leaves them guessing who or what the Inspector was and the messages he tried to teach them about social responsibility. Though they are happy the Inspector was a fake and are ready to carry on as normal, the family and Gerald suddenly become very tense with ‘a moment’s complete silence’ as Birling puts the telephone down. As he tells his family what has happened Birling ‘looks in a panic-stricken fashion’ and his family should be waiting apprehensively to hear what he has to say.
When Birling tells them “a girl has just died” I would have his family and Gerald look shocked and taken aback, and for a moment all the characters stand frozen. Just as Mr Birling finishes there should be a sudden noise with the characters looking guiltily at each other and the curtains immediately fall. This leaves questions in the minds of the audience as to who the Inspector was and whether or not the story of Eva Smith is true.
This effective ending makes people think about the play and the moral issues behind it long after they have seen it. In conclusion Priestley ingeniously brings up some important moral and social issues all in this one play without forcing his own views on his audience, instead letting people know and making them think about what he is trying to teach them. He uses the character of Mr Birling to represent all those things he stands against to emphasise the theme of the upper class taking advantage of their social inferiors.
Also in this play he shows that we are all responsible for each other through our actions. Although the events used are from the past, the play still remains to be a popular play for the modern audience because the themes and issues Priestley explores are still quite relevant to life today. 1 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J. B. Priestley section.