An Inspector Calls Questions and Answers
by J. B. Priestley

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How does Priestley create tension in the play An Inspector Calls?

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Tension as a literary device refers to the emotional strain or pressure that a writer creates for his or her characters to heighten the drama. The author creates anxiety by exposing characters to intense internal or external conflicts. Such conflict puts the character under pressure and, as a result, affects the atmosphere in which events occur. The mood becomes suspenseful and may lead to situations in which the character snaps and either loses their sanity or behaves irrationally.

Priestly creates tension in An Inspector Calls with the arrival of Inspector Goole. The mere fact that he appears in the middle of the Birlings' celebration at such an odd hour creates tension. The Birlings and their guest (Gerald Croft) see his unwanted arrival as an intrusion and believe that the visitationĀ of a detective at such an unusual moment can only predict an unpleasant outcome. Furthermore, Mr. Birling is looking forward to a knighthood, and the inspector's untimely arrival may compromise his...

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