An Inspector Calls – Dramatic Devices Quiz

Q1. Where do we first learn about the characters and the setting?

Correct! Wrong!

In the stage directions – Do not answer a question on this in the exam without referencing the stage directions. It is a direct line from Priestley to us, explaining how he would like the actors to portray the characters, giving us an insight into his mindset at the time.

Q2. The lighting is ‘pink and intimate’ at the start. Why might this be?

Correct! Wrong!

All of the above – The family are celebrating the engagement of Sheila and Gerald, and the lighting reflects this. One of the key themes is gender inequality, and in the opening scenes the audience do not see the Birlings as they truly are. You could also suggest that neither does Sheila see her family as it truly is – she enjoys the trappings of her family’s wealth, but has never questions how it was accrued.

Q3. What happens to the lighting when the Inspector arrives?

Correct! Wrong!

Brighter and harder (not harsher) – which could foreshadow the onset of the interrogation by the Inspector by shining a spotlight on each of the characters, or it could reflect the journey towards the truth (the white implied by ‘brighter’ and seeing the light etc.) for Sheila and the audience, away from their initial rose-tinted view of the family, and the world.

Q4. The timing of the Inspector’s arrival is important because…?

Correct! Wrong!

Mr. Birling is in mid speech – This is significant as the Inspector, who represents socialist ideas, interrupts Birling, who represents capitalist views, foreshadowing their locking of horns on stage, with the Inspector ultimately winning out.

Q5. As the play is set 33 years earlier this allows the audience to know certain things the characters cannot possibly know. What is this called?

Correct! Wrong!

Dramatic irony – Priestley cleverly uses this technique to highlight the faults and flaws in Birling’s viewpoint, with the sole intention of illustrating just how outdated and inadequate this way of thinking and behaving has become. This allows him to present his own socialist views as more liberal, forward thinking and kinder by comparison.

Q6. If we understand ‘character’ as a dramatic construct, which of the characters do you think best represents Priestley’s own socialist viewpoint?

Correct! Wrong!

The Inspector himself is a dramatic device Priestley uses to promote his own socialist ideas. He is Priestley’s mouthpiece on stage. His final speech about the ‘millions and millions and millions’ of people like Eva Smith feels as much directed at the audience as it does at the characters.

Q7. Again, following on from the previous question, which character do you think best represents the capitalist views Priestley wishes to challenge?

Correct! Wrong!

Mr. Birling, and his self-centred capitalist views, can be seen as the embodiment of all that is wrong with society, according to Priestley. His belief that we should only focus on ourselves, along with keeping costs/wages as low as possible to ensure larger profits are shown to have dire consequences for others.

Q8. What message could Priestley be sending through his naming of ‘Eva Smith’? (Select 2)

Please select 2 correct answers

Correct! Wrong!

Her name is symbolically significant. If Eva refers to the first woman and Smith is a common name this could mean any woman.

Q9. Which of the following dramatic devices is not used by Priestley?

Correct! Wrong!

Flashback – Priestley could easily have used flashback to elicit more empathy from the audience for the plight of Eva Smith, but perhaps refuses to do so to keep the focus of the audience fully on the Birlings themselves and their reactions to the Inspector.

Q10. Name the only two significant uses of sound in the play?

Please select 2 correct answers

Correct! Wrong!

When we hear the ‘sharp ring’ of the front door bell it crudely interrupts Birling in mid speech, as he is espousing his capitalist views, to alert us to the arrival of the Inspector. Then, right at the end the ‘telephone rings sharply’ followed by ‘a moment’s complete silence’ emphasising how the Birlings are fearing what news this phone call could bring, jolting the older Birlings in particular out of their smug, triumphant, confidence that there will be no scandal after all. The repeated ‘sharp’ foreshadows a discomfort about to descend upon the family.

An Inspector Calls - Dramatic Devices Quiz
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