An Inspector Calls as a ‘Whodunit’ A detective thriller conventionally uses a number of elements that Priestley used: In ‘An Inspector Calls... • Who is the victim? • What is the crime? • Who are the suspects? • Who are the witnesses?
Very compact structure to the play, nothing is allowed to distract the audience from the central theme. There is no sub-plot. • The play takes place in just one location, the action is continuous • Act One begins by introducing the characters and establishing the idea of a happy and united family looking forward to the future with a degree of confidence. In retrospect, there are a number of hints that all is not as it seems but these are not particularly obvious until later in the play. There is nothing to warn us of the shock of the Inspector's visit • Events soon gather speed and it is not long before we are being informed of Birlingand Sheila's involvement with Eva Smith • Foreshadowing is used to warn the audience of events to come, e.g. The mention of the Titanic, the hints of tension between the family members • Tensions increase, firstly as Gerald's affair is unveiled (and the scandal it would cause) and Sheila begins to realise that they are all implicated in some way 'he is giving us rope – so that we’ll hang ourselves'.
Mrs Birling's attempts to shift the blame for the girl's suicide leads her to blame the father of the unborn child. The tension is heightened at this point by the dramatic entrance of Eric. • With the departure of the Inspector it would appear that what follows will be something of an anti-climax as the Inspector's identity is put into doubt by a series of observations made by the Birling family and Gerald. Even the existence of Eva is called into question. • However, the tension remains to some extent as the two generations confirm the differences as suggested by the Inspector - the moral divide is very great indeed • The final conclusion, the phone call announcing that a police inspector is on his way to ask some questions about a girl who has just died in the infirmary is as shocking as it is surprising and ensures that the audience will leave the auditorium in a state of real shock
Freytag's analysis • Elements of plot structure • Gustav Freytag (1816 - 1895) was a German dramatist and novelist. Why is he important? He came up with the structure for the way stories are told in ancient Greek and Shakespearean drama. This analysis is known as Freytag's analysis. His analysis consisted of dividing a play into FIVE parts: • exposition • rising action • climax • falling action • resolution/denouement
Exposition • This is the introduction of story - background information that is needed to properly understand it. This information can include the protagonist, antagonist, the setting and so forth. The inciting incident occurs here - the initial event which triggers the rest of the story. In other words, what was it that put everything in motion?Inciding incidents are not always obvious - you may not even catch them when reading the story. Rising Action • Rising action is what occurs leading up to the climax. For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry must go through a set of tasks to reach where the sorcerer's stone is hidden where he will have the final battle. These tasks are the "rising action", and the final battle would be considered "the climax".
Climax • The climax is considered the high point - the most exciting part - of the story. This is where all the rising action and conflict building up in the story finally reaches the peak. It is usually the moment of greatest danger or decision-making for the protagonist. The turning point can be considered the incident right before the climax, or can also be used as another name for climax. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, the climax occurs when Juliet stabs herself. Falling Action • The falling action deals with events which occur right after the climax. These events are usually the after-effects of the climax.
Resolution/Denouement • Here is the end of the falling action and the conclusion to the story. There is usually a release of dramatic tension and anxiety (also known as catharsis). It can also be the that portion at the end of the plot that reveals the final outcome of its conflicts or the solution of its mysteries.Denouement originates from the old French word denoer, which meant "to untie". So you could say that denouement is the unravelling or untying of the complexities of a plot.Keep in mind, that sometimes stories have endings with a lot of unanswered questions. It is up to your discretion on whether you want to identify a resolution, or argue that a resolution in the story was never fully developed.